Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley was suspended indefinitely for gambling on National Football League games in 2021. The NFL announced the suspension in February of 2022. Ridley was on the non-football injury list during the season and then stepped away from the game for personal reasons.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to Ridley, notifying him of the suspension. In part, it read:
“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.”
Former college standout Ridley won two national championships while attending the University of Alabama and was the Falcon’s first-round draft pick in 2018. Ridley’s best year was 2020, when he had 1374 receiving yards, averaging 15.3 yards per catch and nine touchdowns. His numbers were down a bit in 2021 before stepping away from the game.
At the time of the suspension’s announcement, Ridley claimed that he placed three NFL parlay bets for$1,500, but there are now reports of other wagers, including one involving an in-game Falcons/Jaguars bet the point total. There is no evidence that he gambled while playing.
He is now the fifth NFL player in history to be suspended for a season for gambling violations. He is in some illustrious company, including Hall of Famer Alex Karras and former NFL MVP Paul Hornung.
Gambling remains a significant issue for professional athletes, with severe repercussions being common for those athletes who bet on their own sport. It tarnished the legacy of baseball great Pete Rose, who bet on games while managing and subsequently was banned from the MLB in 1989. The greatest betting scandal likely is the Black Sox scandal, which involved eight players throwing the 1919 World Series in return for money from a gambling syndicate. The eight players were subsequently acquitted but remained banned from baseball.