Two days after being reinstated by the NFL, Jaguars receiver Calvin Ridley has spoken at length about his gambling suspension.
The NFL suspended Ridley in March of last year for betting on NFL games over a five-day period while away from the team in late 2021, though Ridley has said now he didn’t mean to ‘tarnish the game’ and was battling depression and anxiety.
‘In 2021, I made the worst mistake of my life by gambling on football,’ he said in an article for The Players’ Tribune.
‘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.
‘Back then, I was depressed. 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. Honestly, I couldn’t even get up off the chair in my living room. Everything was just … dark.’
Calvin Ridley last played in the NFL on October 24, 2021 for the Falcons
The ex-Falcons receiver missed a whole year due to his gambling suspension
Ridley then detailed that he had been battling foot problems for the first three seasons of his career, and was diagnosed with a broken foot two months before the start of the 2021 season.
The former Falcons receiver recovered from the surgery in time for the season, but said he was ‘mentally drained’ and started to experience anxiety around this time, as he couldn’t play without taking painkillers.
Ridley’s problems were then compounded when his house was robbed, as he decided to miss the team’s game in London and take time away from the sport.
By the time Ridley placed the bets, he said he’d been away from the team for ‘about a month,’ and the league’s investigation did not find any evidence that he used insider information on any games.
Nonetheless, it was a mistake that cost him an entire season of his career.
‘I just f***ed up. Period. 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,’ he said.
‘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. One day, I saw a TV commercial for a betting app, and for whatever reason, I downloaded it on my phone.
Ridley had a hugely impressive season the last time he stayed healthy for a full year
‘I deposited like $1,500 total, literally just for something to do,’ he continued. ‘ 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.
Whenever people ask, ‘What were you thinking?’ The only answer I can give is, ‘I wasn’t.’
Ridley, who posted 1,374 in the last full season he played, ended the article on a positive note.
‘Right now, I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt — mentally and physically. On the field, I’m flying. Believe me, I’m flying. That GPS band don’t lie. On my daughter’s name, if I’m healthy? With Trevor Lawrence? I’m giving Jacksonville 1,400 yards a season, period.
The chemistry between Ridley and his quarterback was already on display in a video shared by the Jaguars’ Twitter account, as Lawrence told him he was ‘excited’ to have the All-Pro receiver and that they’d ‘start throwing in two weeks.’