02 Apr

Calvin Ridley, an Atlanta Falcons wide receiver, was banned for the 2022 season for betting on National Football League games last year. It was one of the most stringent punishments a major American sports league has meted out since the NFL hastened to adopt regulated betting on games.

Commissioner Roger Goodell stated on Monday that Ridley, 27, wagered on NFL games over five days in late November 2021 while he was away from the team, focusing on his mental wellbeing. The wide receiver announced his departure from the club on October 31 to “focus on my mental wellbeing” and has yet to return.

According to Goodell’s statement, the league “uncovered no evidence suggesting they utilized any inside knowledge, or any game was compromised” after an inquiry.

“There was no indication that his betting activities were known by his coaches, staff, teammates, or other players.”

Nonetheless, Goodell said that the “credibility of the game” is critical to the league’s performance, and Ridley jeopardised that reputation.

A source familiar with the incident revealed that Ridley made three parlay bets on the Hard Rock Sportsbook phone app in Florida on November 23, 28; however, the authorities did not allow the source to speak publicly.

Genius Sports, which oversees gambling statistics for the league, warned the NFL that a player may have placed those bets. Ridley’s wagers included betting for the Falcons to win.

In a series of tweets on Monday, Ridley said that he had gambled $1,500 in total and professed astonishment at the severity of the penalty.

“I do not have a gambling problem,” he remarked. He then posted: “I know I was wrong, but I am getting one year.”

On Monday, Ridley’s representative, Ben Setas, did not reply to inquiries for a response.

Ridley, a four-year NFL vet, had his most outstanding season in 2020, catching 90 passes for 1,374 yards. He featured in only five games last season. The club activated his fifth-year option for the 2022 season.

The Falcons stated in a press release that they heard of the league’s inquiry on February 9 and “support the league’s findings and actions.”

Under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, Ridley has three days to challenge his suspension and request reinstatement on or after February 15, 2023.

Ridley’s punishment is the league’s first for a sports gambling-related infraction since 2019, when the league penalised Arizona Cardinals defensive back Josh Shaw for the season. Shaw was banned for the 2019 and 2020 seasons while on the injured reserve list. He has not appeared in the National Football League since.

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