HomeSportsNFLCalvin Ridley Speaks Out About Gambling Suspension: ‘I F—ed Up’

Calvin Ridley Speaks Out About Gambling Suspension: ‘I F—ed Up’

by Suzanne Halliburton
calvin ridley
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Calvin Ridley is owning up to his year-long NFL suspension for gambling. The Jaguars receiver wrote a column for The Players Tribune explaining the horrific anxiety that led to his critical mistake.

“I f***ed up,” Calvin Ridley wrote. “I’m not here to sugarcoat anything. In 2021, I made the worst mistake of my life by gambling on football. 

“I paid the price, believe me. I’ve seen all the jokes. I’ve seen all the hate. And I can shoulder all of that, no problem. All I want is for people to understand that, when I made those bets, there was a hell of a lot more going on with me.”

And Ridley did not sugarcoat a detail. He was honest in talking about the intense pain he felt from a misdiagnosed broken foot. There was the pressure he internalized to live up to being the No. 1 receiver on the Falcons. It led to crippling anxiety, which made it difficult for him to leave his own home. And he also recounted portions of his childhood, how his parents abandoned Ridley and his siblings. They lived in foster homes. And he says he knows what it’s like to be hungry and spend a night in a homeless shelter.

“This is hard for a dude like me to talk about,” Calvin Ridley wrote. “But I want to be real with everybody. Back then, I was depressed. I was battling anxiety. (And) I didn’t even want to leave my house. Football was the only thing that ever gave my life meaning, and I couldn’t even find any joy in that at the time. Honestly, I couldn’t even get up off the chair in my living room. Everything was just … dark.”

Calvin Ridley’s last game was against Miami, Oct. 25, 2021. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Calvin Ridley Last Played Football in October 2021

In October 2021, he left the Falcons to take a mental health break. His problems grew worse. He even downloaded a gambling app after seeing a commercial on television. He said he deposited $1,500 into his account. Ridley planned on betting on NBA games, but he did wager on the Falcons.

“In a dark moment, I made a stupid mistake,” Calvin Ridley said. “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.”

Ridley then talked about why he placed a bet on football. He said: “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.” Ridley said he “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.”

This time a year ago, the NFL announced that the league had suspended Ridley for a year for gambling on its games. The Falcons traded Ridley to the Jaguars last November. Ridley petitioned the NFL for reinstatement. The league lifted the suspension earlier this week.

“Right now, I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt —  mentally and physically,” Calvin Ridley said. “On the field, I’m flying. Believe me, I’m flying. … I want to thank the Jaguars for showing faith in me, and understanding me as a human being who made a mistake.”