Calvin Ridley will not return to an NFL field in 2022.
The league announced Monday that Ridley, a star wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, has been suspended for the upcoming season and possibly longer after an investigation revealed he was gambling on NFL games.
Ridley cannot petition for his reinstatement until Feb. 15, 2023, though he does have three days to appeal his punishment.
The wideout’s infraction took place “during a five-day period in late November 2021,” according to an NFL statement, after Ridley had taken a leave of absence from the Falcons to focus on his mental health. That leave lasted through the end of the season, with Ridley appearing in just five games.
“A league investigation uncovered no evidence indicating any inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way,” the league statement read. “Nor was there evidence suggesting any awareness by coaches, staff, teammates, or other players of his betting activity.”
The NFL’s announcement included a letter sent to Ridley from commissioner Roger Goodell, who said the receiver violated the integrity of the game. Goodell’s letter also indicated Ridley admitted he violated league rules.
“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,” Goodell wrote. “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.”
Ridley’s wagers involved Falcons games, according to a report from NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo.
In a separate statement, the Falcons said they “cooperated fully with the investigation since receiving notice (on Feb. 9) and support the league’s findings and actions.”
“We are moving forward in the 2022 season with the decision that was made,” the statement read, in part.
Ridley addressed his suspension on Twitter, writing: “I bet 1500 total I don’t have a gambling problem.”
“Just (going to) be more healthy when I come back,” he added.
Ridley had been mentioned as a possible offseason trade candidate for the New England Patriots, who lacked a true No. 1 receiver this past season. The 27-year-old Alabama product caught 90 passes for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020 and was set to earn a guaranteed salary of $11.1 million in 2022.