Well, kind of a major development here in the NFL news cycle a week ahead of free agency.
The league announced that Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley has been suspended indefinitely for betting on games during the 2021 NFL season.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell today suspended Calvin Ridley of the Atlanta Falcons indefinitely through at least the conclusion of the 2022 season for betting on NFL games in the 2021 season. The activity took place during a five-day period in late November 2021 while Ridley was not with the team and was away from the club’s facility on the non-football illness list.
A league investigation uncovered no evidence indicating any inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way. Nor was there evidence suggesting any awareness by coaches, staff, teammates, or other players of his betting activity.
In a letter to Ridley notifying him of his suspension, Commissioner Goodell wrote:
“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.
“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 may petition for reinstatement on or after February 15, 2023. Pursuant to the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, he may appeal his suspension by filing notice within three days.
Ridley has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason with some thinking of him as a potential target for the Philadelphia Eagles. I never thought of that as particularly likely, for a number of reasons (among them: don’t think the Eagles are looking to invest serious money at WR), but now we know that idea is officially kaput.
There are a lot of considerations to unpack from this story. The Falcons are suddenly without their top receiver (again) moving forward and won’t be able to get any compensation for him. Teams in the market for Ridley have one less option available to them, which could impact strategies in free agency and the NFL Draft.
Oh, yeah, and then there’s the whole can of worms that’s now been opened with evidence of an NFL player illegally betting on games. Such a development is only going to raise questions if other players might be doing this. The NFL can say that their integrity hasn’t been compromised but that won’t stop some from having their doubts.