Calvin Ridley’s NFL future just became even less certain after being hit with severe discipline by the NFL.
The league announced Monday that it is suspending the Atlanta Falcons receiver indefinitely — the entire 2022 season at minimum — for gambling on NFL games last season. Ridley was away from the Falcons during the 2021 season, having been granted a leave of absence due to focus on his mental health.
According to the NFL, Ridley’s gambling “activity” took place in a five-day period in November 2021 while he was away from the team and 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,” the league wrote. “Nor was there evidence suggesting any awareness by coaches, staff, teammates, or other players of his betting activity.”
Ridley will be eligible to apply for reinstatement on or after February 15, 2023 — and may also appeal this suspension. The announcement notes that Ridley admitted to the infraction when approached by the NFL.
The announcement also included an excerpt of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s letter to Ridley, informing him of the punishment:
“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 wrote to Ridley. “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,” Goodell continued. “In your case, I acknowledge and commend you for your promptly reporting for an interview, and for admitting your actions.”
Ridley had been a popular candidate for a trade this offseason, with speculation that he could benefit with a fresh start with a new team. However, Monday’s news immediately shuts down any trade speculation for the New England Patriots or other potential suitors across the NFL.
“We were first made aware of the league’s investigation on Feb. 9,” the Falcons said in a team statement. “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.”