NFL wide receiver Calvin Ridley suspended for 2022 season after betting on plays : NPR

Calvin Ridley of the Atlanta Falcons during his rookie season in a game against the Cleveland Browns.

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Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Calvin Ridley of the Atlanta Falcons during his rookie season in a game against the Cleveland Browns.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Calvin Ridley, a wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, was suspended by the league for betting on NFL games. He will miss the entire 2022 season.

An NFL investigation found no evidence that Ridley used “inside information” to place his bets, or that his teammates and coaches knew about his play, the league said in a statement Monday.

“Your actions endanger the integrity of the game, threaten to damage public confidence in professional football and potentially damage the reputation of your fellow players throughout the NFL,” commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a statement. letter to Ridley informing him of the suspension.

In a series of tweets posted on Monday, Ridley wrote that he bet $1,500 in total and expressed disbelief at how long the punishment would last.

“I don’t have a gambling problem,” he said.

Ridley’s game took place over a five-day period in late November, the league wrote.

At this time, Ridley was on a voluntary break from football. In a report posting in October, Ridley said he was stepping away from sports in order to “focus on my mental well-being”.

As a result, he was not traveling with the team at betting time.

“I couldn’t even watch football then,” Ridley wrote on Monday. “I’ve just been healthier when I come back.”

Ridley was drafted by the Falcons in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft after a stellar career at the University of Alabama. In his third pro season, he caught 90 passes for nearly 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns, a stat line that earned him 2020 All-Pro second-team honors and set high expectations for 2021.

But Ridley struggled for the first five games before announcing his break in October. Now his future is uncertain.

Ridley will be allowed to seek reinstatement the week after next year’s Super Bowl, the league said. The NFL collective agreement gives him the right to appeal the suspension.

The NFL had once been extremely suspicious of any association with gambling or fantasy football, going so far as to take legal action in 2012 to block a New Jersey state sports betting law. At the time, Goodell wrote that legalizing sports gambling could “irreparably damage the integrity and public confidence in NFL football.”

But that attitude has since changed. In 2017, the league approved the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas, where sports betting is legal.

And after the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting in 2018, professional sports leagues of all kinds — including the NFL — embraced the game via TV commercials and sponsorship deals with betting sites like Caesars. , DraftKings and FanDuel.

In 2018, the American Gaming Association estimated these deals could bring more than half a billion dollars in annual revenue to the NFL.

The league last suspended a player in 2019. Arizona Cardinals cornerback Josh Shaw placed a bet against his team while sitting on injured reserve. He was suspended for the entire 2020 season and was reinstated by the league last year, despite not playing last season.

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