The National Football League announced Monday that Commissioner Roger Goodell has suspended the Atlanta Falcons' Calvin Ridley for at least the 2022 season after the wide receiver allegedly bet on games.
According to the NFL, Ridley wagered on the league's games over five days in November of 2021.
At the time, the receiver was not with his team and was away from the club’s facility while he was on the non-football illness list, a press release stated. Ridley was placed on the NFI list after he announced mid-season he’d be stepping away from football to focus on his mental health.
A league investigation found no evidence suggesting any inside information was used or that any game had been compromised, the NFL said. There was also no evidence indicating any Falcons coach, player, or staff member knew about Ridley’s alleged betting activity, the league added.
NFL determined that Calvin Ridley placed multi-legged parlay bets involving 3, 5 and 8 games that included the Falcons to win, per source. Investigation determined there was no involvement from any team players, coach etc. placed via his mobile device out of state.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 7, 2022
Ridley is allowed to petition for reinstatement on or after Feb. 15, 2023, the NFL said, which is a few days after next year’s Super Bowl. The league’s collective bargaining agreement with its players also allows Ridley to appeal the technically indefinite suspension by filing notice within three days.
However, sections of a letter from Goodell to Ridley released by the league suggest the receiver admitted to betting on NFL games.
"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,” Goodell’s letter to Ridley said, according to the NFL’s press release. “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."
I bet 1500 total I don’t have a gambling problem— CALVIN RIDLEY (@CalvinRidley1) March 7, 2022
Monday’s announcement comes as the NFL and other professional leagues have been embracing legal sports betting. The embrace follows a 2018 decision by the United States Supreme Court that paved the way for wagering to spread across the country.
The NFL had been an opponent of legalization before the decision but has since partnered with online sportsbooks and added betting lines to its TV network's crawl, among other gambling-related moves.
"For decades, gambling on NFL games has been considered among the most significant violations of league policy warranting the most substantial sanction,” Goodell’s letter to Ridley said, according to the NFL. “In your case, I acknowledge and commend you for your promptly reporting for an interview, and for admitting your actions."
Ridley fired off several tweets Monday as well that appear to be in response to the suspension announcement.
Those tweets claimed Ridley only bet $1,500 in total, that doesn't have a gambling problem, and that he "couldn't even watch football at that point."