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Alabama in the Pros

Calvin Ridley admits he ‘f-cked up’ gambling on football in passionate open letter

Calvin Ridley of the Atlanta Falcons scores a TD versus Carolina Panthers in 2019 season
Jason Getz - USA TODAY Sports

He made a mistake, but he owned it and the National Football League is happy to have Calvin Ridley back.

Everyone saw the report of him betting on Atlanta Falcons’ games, everyone saw the one-year suspension the league handed him, everyone saw the $11.1 million of his base salary he had to forfeit in 2022, but no one knew the condition Ridley was in during the situation. He bore his emotions in a heartfelt apology in The Players Tribune. Ridley never wanted to cheat the game that embraced him as a young man from South Florida that had been running from trouble throughout his life. As a former University of Alabama star receiver, he admitted he ‘f—– up.’ He wants to make it right for the league and for himself.

RELATED: Former Alabama WR Calvin Ridley reinstated by the NFL

Ridley opened up about his battle with depression and anxiety that stemmed from a foot injury. He had a nagging issue with his foot in 2019 and 2020, but team doctors for the Falcons told him it was a ‘bone bruise.’ After taking painkillers and totaling a career-high 1,374 receiving yards in 2020, the new medical staff told Ridley his foot was broken. The former five-star found himself in a dark place. He was not healthy to play the game he loved, he could not have fun moments with his daughter, and depression forced him into his room in the dark. He’s had to be the man since he was eight yes ars old. Ridley talked about his parents living a ‘fast life’ and how he and his three younger brothers had to go to foster care. Football saved Ridley, but all the former first-round pick wanted was a normal life. His home in Atlanta also got broken into and his anxiety was heightened as a young father. So much negativity was happening to a talented individual at the time that he needed a way to escape.

Ridley said he downloaded a betting app on his phone, but he did not know why.

His intent was simply to bet on a few NBA games, but he added the Falcons to root for his guys.

He had no inside information on the games as he was away from the team in 2021 for mental health issues. Ridley had no idea what he was thinking; he was just tired of being depressed and never wanted to disappoint anyone. He was hurt by his decision, but it does not define who he is. The Jacksonville Jaguars decided to trade for him, bringing Ridley home to South Florida. After the NFL reinstated him, Jaguars’ head coach Doug Pederson spoke about how excited he is to have Ridley. Ridley vowed in his letter that he’s giving Jacksonville a 1,400-yard receiver every season. It is good to see Ridley back in the league.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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