Calvin Ridley talks anxiety, depression, ‘stupid mistake’ in letter
When Calvin Ridley makes his Jacksonville Jaguars debut in the fall, it’ll be his first time on an NFL field in nearly two years.
Before Ridley was suspended by the league indefinitely for gambling on sports, the former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver was on the non-football injury list while dealing with his mental health. Details of Ridley’s struggles have been vague, but the receiver opened up Wednesday in an open letter published on The Players’ Tribune.
“I would come into the facility and I just wasn’t myself,” Ridley wrote, in part. “I mean, for three years, all those guys in that locker room know how I’m coming. I’m walking in there to compete like hell. I’m trying to take people’s souls, every day. Ask Julio. Ask anybody. But all I wanted was to be at home with my wife and daughter. We were supposed to go play in London, and I just couldn’t leave them. That’s when I finally broke down and told the team that I needed help.”
Among the contributing factors to Ridley’s growing anxieties during the 2021 season was a broken foot that he says he played through during the 2020 season, and a home invasion he says occurred during the Falcons’ Week 1 opener in 2021.
Ridley later explained his decision to bet on NFL games, which earned him a year-long suspension that was lifted earlier this week.
I just f***ed up. Period. In a dark moment, I made a stupid mistake. I wasn’t trying to cheat the game. That’s the thing I want to make clear. At the time, I had been completely away from the team for about a month. I was still just so depressed and angry, and the days were so long. I was looking for anything to take my mind off of things and make the day go by faster. One day, I saw a TV commercial for a betting app, and for whatever reason, I downloaded it on my phone. I deposited like $1,500 total, literally just for something to do. I was going to bet like $200 on some NBA games that night, but then I just added a bunch more games to a parlay. I put the Falcons in on it. I was just doing it to root on my boys, basically. I didn’t have any inside information. I wasn’t even talking to anybody on the team at the time. I was totally off the grid.
Whenever people ask, “What were you thinking?” The only answer I can give is, “I wasn’t.”
Near the end of his letter, Ridley thanked the Jaguars for their faith in him as a person and he made some big promises.
Right now, I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt — mentally and physically. On the field, I’m flying. Believe me, I’m flying. That GPS band don’t lie. On my daughter’s name, if I’m healthy? With Trevor Lawrence? I’m giving Jacksonville 1,400 yards a season, period.
Ridley, 28, is set to play on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract in 2023 and is currently due to become a free agent in 2024.
Ex-Falcons exec Scott Pioli: Jaguars got a steal in Calvin Ridley deal
ESPN's Dan Orlovsky: Calvin Ridley is clearly the AFC South's best WR
Bryan Bresee: Trevor Lawrence has 'eyes in the back of his head'