The NFL announced in a press release on Monday that Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley was suspended for at least the entire 2022 NFL season for betting on NFL games during the 2021 campaign.
Ridley played in five games for the Falcons last season, catching 31 passes for 282 yards and 2 TDs. The Falcons put him on the non-football illness list in early November so he could work on his mental health.
The league said Ridley's betting came during a five-day period in late November when he was on the non-football list and away from the team. The NFL's investigation uncovered "no evidence indicating any inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way." There was also no evidence of awareness by Falcons coaches, staff, teammates, or other players of Ridley's betting activity.
Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote to Ridley in the NFL's statement, "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 promptly reporting for an interview, and for admitting your actions."
Multiple reports on Monday noted that a league source said Ridley placed parlays of three, five and eight games at the Hard Rock Sportsbook in Florida, between Nov. 23 and Nov. 28, 2021, which included the Falcons to win. The bets were placed on Ridley's mobile device. The Hard Rock app was legal and operational in Florida from Nov. 1 to the middle of December in 2021, before a lawsuit forced the app to stop taking bets.
This is the second occurrence of an NFL player violating the league's gambling policy since 2018 and the widespread legalization of sports betting via the Supreme Court's ruling. Arizona Cardinals DB Josh Shaw was suspended for the 2020 season in late 2019 after betting on NFL games.
Over 30 U.S. states, including Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico now have legal and operational sports betting.
Ridley said in a series of tweets on Monday that he only wagered $1,500 total and doesn't have a gambling problem. He is eligible for reinstatement on or after Feb. 16, 2023.