By Jerin Minor
On Monday, March 7, 2022, the NFL released a statement regarding the gambling scandal of Atlanta Falcons wide receiver, Clavin Ridley. The league confirmed that Ridley, 27, gambled on several games that occurred during the 2021 season while the athlete was taking time off for mental health reasons. The activities transpired over a five-day stretch in late Nov. 2021. This is the NFL’s first penalty for a gambling-related issue involving a player since 2019.
“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,” said NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, in a letter he wrote to Ridley.
Ridley was confirmed to have placed three parlay bets on games involving the Falcons on the Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile app while he was in Florida, according to the league. After some investigation, it was uncovered that one of the bets was favored for the Falcons to win. Ridley has been suspended indefinitely for the 2022 season.
“[The NFL] uncovered no evidence that Ridley used inside information or any game was comprised in any way,” Goodell said in a statement.
Falcons’ coaching staff and players claim to not have been aware of Ridley’s gambling activity.
“We were first made aware of 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 Falcons said in a statement. The NFL was able to find out about Calvin Ridley’s betting on games due to the league’s relationship with regulated sportsbooks, according to ESPN gambling industry reporter, David Purdum.
“We are moving forward in the 2022 season with the decision that was made. With the decision that was made by the NFL, any further questions on the investigation should be directed to the league office”, Purdum said.
It is a serious violation for players to bet on NFL games due to the compromises on the integrity of the sport, however, they are allowed to bet on games in other sports.
Ridley is the second most recent player to be suspended for betting on NFL games since the 2018 season after the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court opened a way for all states to bet on games. Arizona Cardinals defensive back, Josh Shaw, was recently suspended back in 2019 after the NFL learned that he was gambling on league games while on injured reserve.
It is unknown if the Falcons’ receiver will take legal actions against his penalty. Ridley can appeal the suspension within three days as well as ask for reinstatement for or after February 15, 2023, according to the NFL committee. In 2018 Ridley signed a four-year contract with the Falcons. His violation [suspension] causes the receiver to forfeit his $11.1 million 2022 salary. This opens up an $11.1 million salary cap for the Atlanta Falcons.