The NFL has suspended star Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley for at least the 2022 season after it was discovered he bet on games in 2021.
In a statement on its website, the NFL said that Ridley placed bets during a five-day period in late November 2021, when he was away from the club's facility on the non-football illness list. The former first-round pick played in just five games in 2021 before leaving the club to focus on his "mental wellbeing."
"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 wrote in a letter notifying Ridley of the suspension. "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."
The announced that its investigation found no inside information was used or that any game was compromised. Also, there was no evidence of coaches, staff, teammates, or other players being aware of Ridley’s betting.
NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported that Ridley used his personal phone to place parlay bets. Garafolo also reported that Ridley's wagers did in fact involve the Falcons, per a source with knowledge of the investigation.
In a press release, the Falcons said they became aware of the investigation early last month and cooperated fully.
"We are moving forward in the 2022 season with the decision that was made," the team said. "With the decision that was made by the NFL, any further questions on the investigation should be directed to the league office."