Calvin Ridley reinstated by NFL after year-long, gambling-related ban


Wide receiver Calvin Ridley was reinstated by the NFL on Monday after the league suspended him indefinitely a year ago for violating its gambling policy.

Ridley, a member of the Atlanta Falcons at the time who was traded in November to the Jacksonville Jaguars, can now join his new team and participate fully in all activities. The Jaguars said Monday they “look forward to building a relationship with Calvin as both an individual and as a player.”

“Today’s reinstatement by the NFL brings an end to a challenging chapter of my professional career, one that was self-inflicted and began with an isolated lapse in judgement,” Ridley said in a statement shared by the Jaguars. “I have always owned my mistakes and this is no different.”

A 2018 first-round pick by Atlanta, Ridley played in five games for the Falcons in 2021 before revealing he was stepping away from football to “focus on my mental wellbeing.”

In announcing Ridley’s suspension in March 2022, the NFL said it found no evidence he used inside information or that “any game was compromised in any way.” A person familiar with the situation told The Washington Post that Ridley bet on the Falcons to win while including them in several multi-team parlay wagers.

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Ridley said on Twitter at the time he knew he was “wrong” for having placed bets, but he hinted at being surprised to learn his indefinite suspension would last a year and added: “If you know me you know my character.”

The former Alabama star also tweeted then that he wagered a total of $1,500 and did not “have a gambling problem.”

The episode sparked discussion about decades-old, ironclad prohibitions on player gambling amid a rapid expansion of legal wagering platforms, many of which have reached agreements with major sports leagues. In recent years, the NFL has partnered with sportsbooks such as DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM.

In levying Ridley’s suspension, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote to him in a letter, “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.”

On Monday, Ridley said in his statement, “I have great respect for the game and am excited for the opportunity to restart my career in Jacksonville. I look forward to showing my new coaches, teammates, and the entire Jaguars organization exactly who I am and what I represent as a player and person.”

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Ridley, 28, was productive in his first two seasons before breaking out in 2020 with 90 catches for 1,374 yards — tied for the fifth most in the NFL that year — and nine touchdowns.

His addition to Jacksonville’s pass-catching corps could help quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, build off the huge leap he made from his rookie to sophomore seasons. Lawrence earned a Pro Bowl selection in 2022 and finished seventh in NFL MVP voting after completing 66.3 percent of his passes for 4,113 yards, 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

“Calvin is a proven playmaker,” the Jaguars said Monday, “and we are excited to see him compete among and with his new teammates, first during our Offseason Program in April and ultimately into the 2023 season, as we collectively pursue a championship for Jacksonville.”

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