NFL star Calvin Ridley has been suspended indefinitely and at least for the entire 2022 NFL season for betting on matches.
The wide receiver, who left the Atlanta Falcons last season to focus on his mental health, placed bets during a five-day period last November during which he was not at team facilities, the NFL said.
“I bet 1500 total I don’t have a gambling problem,” Ridley wrote on Twitter soon after the news broke.
“I couldn’t even watch football at that point.”
“I know I was wrong But I’m getting 1 year lol.”
27-year-old Ridley has pledged to return to the NFL in good shape, with his last game for the Falcons coming in October last year.
“Just gone (sic) be more healthy when I come back,” he tweeted.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Ridley after a league investigation determined Ridley bet on NFL games in 2021 while away from the team addressing mental health issues.
The league said the suspension would carry ‘through at least the conclusion of the 2022 season’.
The NFL investigation found no evidence that inside information was used or that any game was compromised by Ridley’s betting, an NFL announcement said.
The investigation uncovered no evidence that suggested any Atlanta Falcons coaches, players or staff were aware of Ridley’s betting actions.
In a letter written from Goodell to Ridley, the commissioner said:
“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.”
NFL Commissioner Goodell praised Ridley for being honest about his betting activity.
“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.”
Ridley can appeal the ban within three days, otherwise he will be eligible for reinstatement to the NFL in February 2023 and will lose a guaranteed $US11.1 million ($15.2 million) in salary for his suspended season.
The Atlanta Falcons had been approximately $US7.3 million ($10 million) over the salary cap for the 2022 NFL season. They will now be able to remove Ridley’s $US11.1 million ($15.2 million) salary from their payroll for the season, moving them under the cap. That contract shifts to 2023, when Ridley would have been a free agent.
Following the completion of the investigation, the Falcons released a statement saying it had cooperated with the league’s investigation in the last month.
“We were first made aware of the league’s investigation on February 9,” the Falcons said.
“We have cooperated fully with the investigation since receiving notice and support the league’s findings and actions. We are moving forward in the 2022 season with the decision that was made. With the decision that was made by the NFL, any further questions on the investigation should be directed to the league office.”
Ridley, a former first-round pick out of Alabama, had 31 receptions and two touchdowns in five games before taking time away from NFL last season as he addressed his mental health concerns.