Jaguars’ Calvin Ridley says gambling on NFL was ‘worst mistake of my life’ in heartfelt apology


Calvin Ridley was officially reinstated by the league on Monday following an indefinite suspension that lasted one year for betting on NFL games. In a letter posted on The Players’ Tribune on Wednesday, the now Jaguars wide receiver posted an apology for his transgression while highlighting that he had been battling depression and anxiety, which led him to bet on games. 

“I f***ed up. I’m not here to sugarcoat anything,” Ridley wrote. “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.” 

Before this gambling violation, Ridley stepped away from the NFL just five games into the 2021 season, citing mental health reasons. He noted in this latest letter that he had been dealing with health issues, including a broken foot that he had been playing with throughout the 2020 season. Ridley, who had been a member of the Atlanta Falcons during this time, claims in this letter that the team trainer told him it was just a bone bruise and took Toradol shots every Sunday until he finished the season. Then, when a new trainer joined the team the following offseason, he was informed that his foot was broken, which led to surgery, and Ridley adds that he rushed back to start the season. 

“I still couldn’t plant without painkillers,” said Ridley. “So you get trapped in this cycle where it’s like, ‘If you take this pill, you can run.'”

It was at this time, Ridley explains, that his anxiety started, but he decided to suit up Week 1 and play through it. After that opening game, Ridley and his family came home to find out that their house had been broken into while they were at the stadium. Their security footage showed five or six guys “with guns drawn.”

“That’s when I really just started to feel the weight of the world on my chest,” he said. “I didn’t have the words for what I was experiencing yet. It felt like I was getting attacked — but almost by something invisible. It’s like I’m getting hit in my chest, 24/7, by somebody I can’t see.” 

All that led him to step away from the team, which was during the time he placed the bet. 

“In a dark moment, I made a stupid mistake. 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. …  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. I wasn’t even talking to anybody on the team at the time. I was totally off the grid.” 

Official word from the NFL on Ridley’s suspension came down in March 2022. He has since served that suspension and while he was away he was dealt by Atlanta to the Jacksonville Jaguars at the trade deadline. 

“I want to thank the Jaguars for showing faith in me, and understanding me as a human being who made a mistake,” he said. 

Now, Ridley will look to put this situation behind him, inject himself into Jacksonville’s up-and-coming offense, and re-establish himself as one of the top receivers in the NFL. 

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