Calvin Ridley on gambling suspension: ‘The worst mistake of my life’

When the Atlanta Falcons traded away Julio Jones during the 2021 offseason, it was supposed to be Calvin Ridley‘s time to shine as the team’s undisputed No. 1 receiver. However, Ridley wound up playing just five games that season before he was placed on the non-football injury list to address his mental health.

Fans didn’t know much about what was going on with Ridley at the time, and while some initially had sympathy for him, those feelings quickly evaporated when Ridley was hit with a one-year suspension for gambling on NFL games. Atlanta traded Ridley to the Jaguars in November, and he was finally reinstated by the NFL last week.

On Wednesday, Ridley published an article through the Players’ Tribune that gives an inside look at his life over the past two years. The former Alabama star said that betting on football games was the worst mistake of his life, and provides a vivid picture of what he was dealing with during his final season in Atlanta. It all started when Ridley broke his ankle two months before the 2021 season began.

Ridley tried playing through the pain but was simply not himself. Making matters worse, Ridley returned home from the team’s Week 1 loss to find his house had been burglarized by several men with guns.

This is when Ridley said he knew there was something wrong. Not only was he dealing with the pressure of trying to perform on a bad ankle, he had become overwhelmed with the anxiety from his home life. Things hit a breaking point when the Falcons were preparing to play the Panthers in London during Week 8.

It was during that time away from the team that he was busted for betting on NFL games. Ridley goes on to explain how the gambling suspension came about.

In the NFL, players are not allowed to show weakness, but they are very much human like the rest of us. Ridley’s depression and anxiety became overwhelming to the point that he no longer felt like he could help the team.

The gambling suspension was what we in the media focused on, but Ridley’s story should serve as a reminder that mental health issues can be as detrimental as any physical ailment.

Now as Ridley is set to resume his NFL career with the Jaguars in 2023, he hopes to put the past behind him and get back to work on the football field. The former Falcons wideout said he has no ill will towards the city or franchise.

Ultimately, a fresh start was the best thing for both Ridley and the Falcons. And for fans still holding resentment, remember Atlanta’s 2024 draft compensation is related to Ridley’s performance with the Jaguars.

During his four seasons with the Falcons, Ridley racked up 248 catches for 3,342 receiving yards and 28 touchdowns.


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Story originally appeared on Falcons Wire