Calvin Ridley: Betting on NFL games was ‘worst mistake of my life’

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The NFL reinstated Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley on Monday after a year-long suspension for betting on games while he was a member of the Atlanta Falcons in 2021. In an open letter published by The Players’ Tribune, the Alabama product says his gambling activities were the “worst mistake” of his life.

“I f—-d up,” 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. 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.”

Ridley’s betting activity took place during a five-day period in late November 2021 while he was away from the Falcons’ facilities as a member of the non-football illness list. He only played in five games during the 2021 campaign as he stepped away to focus on his mental health. Ridley says his mental health issues factored into his decision to gamble.

“I was depressed,” Ridley wrote. “I was battling anxiety. 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. In a dark moment, I made a stupid mistake.”

Ridley wagered $3,900 across six separate bets on or including Falcons games. Five bets were parlays in which the Falcons’ money line was included. All six of the wagers involving the Falcons graded out as losses.

“I wasn’t trying to cheat the game,” Ridley wrote. “That’s the thing I want to make clear. 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. One day, I saw a TV commercial for a betting app, and for whatever reason, I downloaded it on my phone. I deposited like $1,500 total, literally just for something to do. 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. I didn’t have any inside information.”

Despite his suspension, the Jaguars traded a conditional 2023 sixth-round and a 2024 fourth-round pick for Ridley in November. Ridley caught 31 passes for 281 yards (9.1 average) and two touchdowns as a fourth-year pro during the 2021 season. He has made 248 catches for 3,342 yards (13.5 average) and 28 touchdowns in his NFL career.

The 26th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Ridley entered 2021 off his best season in the NFL. Ridley caught 90 passes for a career-high 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020.

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In three seasons at Alabama from 2015-17, Ridley caught 224 passes for 2,781 yards (12.4 average) and 19 touchdowns. A former five-star recruit out of Pompano Beach (Fla.) Monarch High School in 2015, Ridley was the No. 12-ranked player, according to 247Sports.

Will Backus and Brad Crawford contributed to this report.

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