Calvin Ridley calls gambling suspension ‘the worst mistake of my life’
When the Atlanta Falcons traded away Julio Jones during the 2021 offseason, it was supposed to be Calvin Ridley‘s time to shine as the team’s undisputed No. 1 receiver. However, Ridley wound up playing just five games that season.
The former first-round pick had recorded 31 catches for 281 receiving yards and two touchdowns before he was placed on the non-football injury list due to his mental health.
Fans didn’t know much about what was going on with Ridley at the time, and while some initially had sympathy for him, it quickly evaporated when he was hit with a one-year suspension for gambling on NFL games. Atlanta traded Ridley to the Jaguars in November, and he was finally reinstated by the NFL last week.
Before looking ahead to his career in Jacksonville, though, Ridley published a story through the Players’ Tribune that gives an inside look at his life over the past two years.
Ridley said gambling on football games was the worst mistake of his life, providing a vivid picture of his final season in Atlanta and what he was dealing with off the field. It all started when Ridley broke his ankle two months before the 2021 season began.
Ridley tried playing through the pain but was simply not himself. Making matters worse, Ridley returned home from the team’s Week 1 loss to find his house had been burglarized by several men with guns.
This is when Ridley says he knew that there was something wrong. Not only was he dealing with the pressure of trying to perform on a bad ankle, he became overwhelmed with the anxiety from his home life. Things hit a breaking point when the Falcons were preparing to play the Panthers in London during Week 8.
It was during that time away from the team that he was busted for gambling on NFL games. Ridley goes on to explain how the gambling suspension came about.
In the NFL, players are not allowed to show weakness, but they are very much human like the rest of us. Ridley’s depression and anxiety became overwhelming to the point that he no longer felt like he could help the team.
The gambling suspension was what we in the media focused on, but Ridley’s story should serve as a reminder that mental health issues can be as detrimental as any physical ailment.
Now as Ridley is set to return to the Jaguars in 2023, he hopes to put the past behind him and get back to work on the football field. The former Falcons wideout said he has no ill will towards the city or franchise.
Ultimately, a fresh start was the best thing for both Ridley and the Falcons. And for fans still holding resentment, remember Atlanta’s 2024 draft compensation is related to Ridley’s performance with the Jaguars.
During his four seasons with the Falcons, Ridley racked up 248 catches 3,342 receiving yards and 28 touchdowns.
Falcons land Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith in ESPN mock draft
10 offensive tackle options for the Falcons in free agency
Falcons pass on franchise-tagging Kaleb McGary
Falcons won’t pursue Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, per report
20 players who elevated their draft stock at the combine
Story originally appeared on Falcons Wire