Falcons WR Calvin Ridley suspended at least through 2022 season by NFL for betting on games

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley has been suspended for at least one year after the NFL determined he had placed bets on games last season, the league announced Monday.

Ridley's suspension is indefinite but will be through "at least the conclusion of the 2022 season." He can apply for reinstatement on Feb. 15, 2023, though he can also appeal the ban.

An NFL investigation determined the infraction took place during a five-day window in November 2021 when Ridley was away from the Falcons. The wide receiver announced on Oct. 31 that he was stepping away from the team to "focus on my mental well-being" and has yet to rejoin the organization.

After news of the suspension broke, Ridley tweeted, "I bet 1500 total I don’t have a gambling problem." He added, "I know I was wrong But I’m getting 1 year lol."

The NFL found that Ridley did not use inside information or compromise any games. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported Ridley placed three parlays and bet on the Falcons to win. 

"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 in a statement. "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."

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Atlanta Falcons' Calvin Ridley runs with the ball after a catch during a game in October 2021.

Ridley, 27, broke out for the Falcons in 2020 with 1,374 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. The 2018 first-round pick out of Alabama was expected to take on a starring role in the offense after the team traded longtime leading receiver Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans last offseason, but Ridley played in just five games before stepping away.

"We were first made aware of the league's investigation on Feb. 9," the Falcons said in a statement. "We have cooperated fully with the investigation since receiving notice and support the league's findings and actions. 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."

In January, Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said he was not giving up on a possible return by Ridley. 

"I wouldn’t assume anything,” Fontenot said about whether the team would trade Ridley. “We handle each situation individually. There are so many variables we deal with. We’re going to try to add to every position this offseason."

The NFL has seldom handed out bans for gambling infractions. When the league suspended Arizona Cardinals defensive back Josh Shaw in 2019 through the completion of the following season, the Associated Press reported it was the first such penalty imposed since Baltimore Colts quarterback Art Schlichter was suspended in 1983 for betting on NFL games and other sporting events.