The National Football League (NFL) has suspended wide receiver Calvin Ridley of the Atlanta Falcons for betting on NFL games during the 2021 season. The punishment is scheduled to last for the duration of the upcoming 2022 season at minimum.
In a statement, the NFL said: “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.”
An investigation by the league revealed no evidence that any inside information was used or that any NFL game was compromised in any way. No evidence was found that Ridley’s coaches, staff, teammates, or other players were aware of the betting activity.
After the suspension was announced, Ridley provided further information in a series of tweets, stating that he bet $1,500 in total and that “I don’t have a gambling problem”.
Ridley added that he couldn’t even watch the NFL at the time he placed the wagers, before also saying that he’s just going to “be more healthy when I come back” and that “I know I was wrong But I’m getting 1 year lol” (sic).
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a letter to Ridley notifying him of his suspension: “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.”
According to a report by PFT, the NFL regularly warns its players not to participate in gambling since it is prohibited for them to gamble on NFL games. In an email to PFT, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy shared specific information on betting on the NFL and other sports from the league’s player manual.
In terms of betting on the NFL: “All NFL Personnel are prohibited from placing, soliciting, or facilitating any bet, whether directly or through a third party, on any NFL game, practice or other event. This includes betting on game outcome, statistics, score, performance of any individual participant, or any other kind of ‘proposition bet.’”
With regard to betting on other sports: “All NFL Personnel other than Players are further prohibited from placing, soliciting, or facilitating bets on any other professional (e.g., NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA, USTA, MLS), college (e.g., NCAA basketball), international (e.g., World Baseball Classic, World Cup), or Olympic sports competition, tournament or event.”
Violations are “decided by the Commissioner or his designee on a case-by-case basis”, and those that “constitute conduct detrimental to the League and will subject the involved club and/or person(s) to appropriate disciplinary action by the Commissioner”.
Disciplinary action can include “severe penalties up to and including a fine, termination of employment and/or banishment from the NFL for life”.
Ridley may petition for reinstatement on or after February 15, 2023. Per the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, Ridley may appeal his suspension by filing notice within three days. It is not known whether he has appealed his punishment.
Ridley is the second NFL player to be suspended for betting on games since 2018. In 2019, Arizona Cardinals defensive back Josh Shaw was suspended after the NFL learned he wagered on games while on injured reserve.