The news just keeps getting worse in Atlanta. After missing much of the 2021 season to address his mental health, rumors had Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley potentially on his way out of via trade, though we had nothing concrete aside from reported interest from other teams. A complicated situation has a resolution, but it’s one that complicates everything even further.
On Monday afternoon it was announced that the NFL will be suspending Ridley for the entirety of the 2022 season. Below is the official statement from the NFL.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell today suspended Calvin Ridley of the Atlanta Falcons indefinitely through at least the conclusion of the 2022 season for betting on NFL games in the 2021 season. The activity took place during a five-day period in late November 2021 while Ridley was not with the team and was away from the club’s facility on the non-football illness list.
A league investigation uncovered no evidence indicating any inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way. Nor was there evidence suggesting any awareness by coaches, staff, teammates, or other players of his betting activity.
In a letter to Ridley notifying him of his suspension, Commissioner Goodell wrote:
“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. 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 may petition for reinstatement on or after February 15, 2023. Pursuant to the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, he may appeal his suspension by filing notice within three days.
Per NFL insider Mike Garafolo, part of the league’s expanded foray into legalized gambling included an ability to catch league players, coaches and employees who might be tempted to place bets on games.
From our breaking news coverage on @nflnetwork: The NFL made it clear they’d be able to work with their gambling partners to gather information on potential violations by players and team employees. That’s how Calvin Ridley was caught. pic.twitter.com/0437jOcovs— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 7, 2022
The team released the following statement:
“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. 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.”
Per reports, the Falcons had avoided getting into any trade talks knowing this was coming down the pike.
Ridley himself weighed in a series of tweets where he said he bet only $1,500. Reports indicated he bet on the Falcons, which is sort of sweet, despite everything.
I know I was wrong But I’m getting 1 year lol— CALVIN RIDLEY (@CalvinRidley1) March 7, 2022
To say we’re shocked by this is an understatement, given that there had no been no leaks that we’re aware from Ridley, the team, or the NFL that suggested that this suspension was forthcoming. We were preparing to find out whether the Falcons would deal Ridley for picks and cap relief or bring him back in hopes of a bounceback season in 2022, but now neither of those things are going to happen. Atlanta will go into the 2022 season now with a decimated wide receiver depth chart, likely with a little more cap space with Ridley’s salary coming off the books, and without Ridley. We’re hopeful both team and player come out of this situation better off than they were before, but man is this rough.
We’ll have more coverage as we learn more about the situation and have a little time to digest it, including what this means for the Falcons roster and cap situation, but for now we’re just going to grapple with the most unexpected development we can imagine to what was always a complex and difficult situation. This is likely to be a wild end to Ridley’s time in Atlanta, even if that’s not likely to be official until next year.