The NFL suspended Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley for at least the 2022 season for betting on league games.
The league said Monday that Ridley bet on NFL games via his cell phone over a five-day stretch in November 2021.
Ridley was not playing for the Falcons at the time, having stepped away from the team for mental health reasons.
Details of Calvin Ridley NFL bets
Ridley placed several parlays, including bets on the Falcons to win, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Ridley reportedly did not wager on the Falcons to lose any games.
The league said there was no involvement from active players or coaches, nor any use of insider information.
Ridley said on Twitter he bet a total of $1,500 on the games and “(does) not have a gambling problem.”
Where was Ridley betting?
Ridley was in Florida when placing the bets, according to multiple reports.
The Athletic NFL reporter Lindsay Jones said Ridley used the Hard Rock Sportsbook app to place three parlays.
That activity triggered red flags and Genius Sports informed the NFL of the wagers. Genius works with the NFL and regulated sportsbooks on integrity monitoring. Its contract with the league began in 2021 after a bidding war with other providers.
November 2021 was the only month when the Hard Rock Sportsbook app was live in the state.
What the NFL said
The league announced Ridley’s suspension in a statement:
“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,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.
“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.”
The Atlanta Falcons said they were contacted about the league’s investigation on Feb. 9.
“We have cooperated fully with the investigation since receiving notice and support the league’s findings and actions,” the team said.
Integrity under siege?
The suspension is the latest in a line of integrity issues for the NFL.
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is currently under investigation for allegedly bribing his head coach to lose games. Back in 2019 the league also suspended Arizona Cardinals player Josh Shaw for betting on games.
Of course, the league now has a bevy of official gambling partners and likely wants come down hard on any perceived integrity issues. However, the punishment looks harsh compared to some others the NFL dished out in past years.
Ridley also took issue with the length of the suspension. The receiver, who was due to make $11.2 million next year, can appeal the penalty.