By Terrance Turner
March 7, 2022
The NFL has suspended Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley indefinitely — at least through the 2022 season — for violating the league’s gambling policy, multiple sources reported on Monday.
The league says Ridley gambled on games over a five-day stretch in November 2021, when he was away from the team to address his mental health. Ridley stepped away from football on Halloween, saying he needed to get his personal life in order. “I need to step away from football and focus on my mental wellbeing,” he stated.
Apparently, he was focusing on gambling, too. The NFL determined that Ridley placed “multilegged parlay bets” involving three, five, and eight games — including that of the Falcons — to win, via his mobile device, per ESPN’s David Purdum. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo also reported that Ridley used his personal phone to make wagers, confirming that his bets did involve the Falcons.
Per NBC Sports, Ridley placed the bets from Florida. The only gambling app legal in the state is Hard Rock Sportsbook. According to Garafolo, Hard Rock recognized Ridley’s name and contacted Genius Sports Group, which oversees betting integrity for the NFL. The compliance company notified the NFL, which then began an investigation. “The NFL was made aware of it, conducted an investigation, and through their gambling partners were able to corroborate the information,” Garagolo said.
“There is nothing more fundamental to the NFL’s success — and to the reputation of everyone associated with our league — than upholding the integrity of the game,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a letter notifying Ridley of the suspension. “This is the responsibility of every player, coach, owner, game official, and anyone else employed in the league. Your actions put the integrity of the game at risk, threatened to damage public confidence in professional football, and potentially undermined the reputations of your fellow players throughout the NFL.
“For decades, gambling on NFL games has been considered among the most significant violations of league policy warranting the most substantial sanction. In your case, I acknowledge and commend you for your promptly reporting for an interview, and for admitting your actions.” Ridley, for his part, appeared anything but ready to admit his behavior in a series of tweets he posted today, minimizing his actions and complaining about the length of the suspension:
The earliest Ridley can apply for reinstatement is Feb. 15, 2023, the NFL said. He also can appeal the suspension by filing notice within three days, per the collective bargaining agreement. It is not known if he has appealed the punishment.
Some observers are noting the contrast in Ridley’s punishment versus that of former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice (who was caught on tape punching out his then-fiancee), ex-Cowboys player Greg Hardy (who faced domestic violence accusations), and former Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (who was charged with child abuse) — all of whom received lesser penalties: