Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley has been suspended for at least the 2022 season after gambling on games in 2021.
The NFL released a statement Monday announcing his suspension, saying Ridley gambled on games over a five-day stretch in November 2021 when he was on the non-football injury list to address his mental health.
Ridley stepped away from football on Halloween, saying he needed to get his personal life in order.
In a series of tweets Monday after the suspension was announced, Ridley said he bet $1,500 total and that “I don’t have a gambling problem.” He also tweeted that he couldn’t even watch football at the time he made the bets. He added that he’s just going to “be more healthy when I come back” and that “I know I was wrong But I’m getting 1 year lol.”
The NFL determined that Ridley placed multilegged parlay bets involving three, five and eight games that included the Falcons to win via his mobile device out of state, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The NFL learned of Ridley’s betting activity through its relationships within the legal sports betting industry, a source told ESPN’s David Purdum. Ridley was also betting on other sports, including the NBA, for larger amounts in the thousands of dollars, during a five-day stretch before Thanksgiving, sources said. It is not against NFL policy for players to bet on other sports.
“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 to Ridley notifying him of his 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.”
The NFL said its investigation uncovered no evidence that Ridley used inside information or “that any game was compromised in any way.” There also was no evidence that any of the Falcons’ coaches, staff or players were aware of his betting activity.
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.
Multiple NFL teams reached out to the Falcons in recent weeks to inquire about trading for Ridley, and each time, Atlanta declined to enter into talks out of good faith, knowing the issues in store for their standout wide receiver, sources told Schefter.
The Falcons said they are preparing for the 2022 season as if Ridley will not be with them.
“We were first made aware of the league’s investigation on Feb. 9. We have cooperated fully with the investigation since receiving notice and support the league’s findings and actions,” the team said in a statement. “We are moving forward in the 2022 season with the decision that was made. With the decision that was made by the NFL, any further questions on the investigation should be directed to the league office.”
Ridley is the second player to be suspended for betting on NFL games since 2018, when a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court opened a path for all states to authorize sports betting. Then-Arizona Cardinals defensive back Josh Shaw was suspended in 2019 after the NFL learned he had bet on league games while on injured reserve.
Since the Supreme Court ruling, 30 states and the District of Columbia have launched legal sports betting markets.
With Ridley now unavailable, Atlanta has one receiver from the 53-man roster last season under contract — rookie Frank Darby.
Ridley’s contract will toll until 2023 and come off the books for 2022, opening up $11.1 million in salary-cap room for the Falcons.