Falcons’ Ridley banned for season and forfeits $11m salary after betting on NFL games | Atlanta Falcons

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The NFL has banned Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley for the entire 2022 season – and possibly longer – for betting on games. The suspension means he will forfeit his $11.1m salary for 2022.

“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 to Ridley, informing him 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 NFL found that Ridley made the bets while he was away from the team after stepping away from the league to concentrate on his mental health in November 2021. The league said there was no reason to suggest Ridley had used inside information or influenced the outcome of any games. The NFL also said it was satisfied no other members of the Falcons were involved in the case.

In a tweet on Monday, Ridley said he had bet $1,500 on games and does not have a gambling problem. ESPN reported that Ridley’s bets included the Falcons to win.

“We were first made aware of the league’s investigation on 9 February. We have cooperated fully with the investigation since receiving notice and support the league’s findings and actions,” the Falcons said in a statement. “We are moving forward in the 2022 season with the decision that was made. With the decision that was made by the NFL, any further questions on the investigation should be directed to the league office.”

The earliest Ridley can apply for reinstatement to the league is 15 February 2023.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that several teams had attempted to open trade talks for Ridley in recent weeks, but the team had been aware of the NFL investigation and had declined any offers.

The 27-year-old Ridley was a first-round pick for the Falcons in 2018 and was named a second-team All Pro in 2020 after recording 1,374 receiving yards.

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