Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley walks off the field...

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley walks off the field following an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Falcons defeated the Dolphins 30-28. (Joe Robbins via AP) Credit: AP/Joe Robbins

The NFL suspended Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley for the entire 2022 season and possibly beyond on Monday after finding he bet on league games in November 2021.

"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 in a letter notifying Ridley 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."

While the league has traditionally tried to keep gambling as far away from the sport as possible, betting has become a part of the league’s financial success in recent years. Ridley is the first person suspended for gambling by the NFL since it became corporate partners with a trio of online betting platforms last April. Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel are the official sports betting partners of the NFL.

Even with such close relationships to those entities, the league’s rules on its players and other team employees participating in such endeavors are clear, prohibiting them from "placing, soliciting or facilitating any bet, whether directly or indirectly through a third party, on any NFL game, practice or other event."

According to multiple reports, the NFL learned of Ridley’s betting activity through its relationships within the legal sports betting industry, which monitors users for such potential infractions and notified the league and its outside partner for investigating these matters, Genius Sports Group.

"For decades, gambling on NFL games has been considered among the most significant violations of league policy warranting the most substantial sanction," Goodell wrote in the letter to Ridley. "In your case, I acknowledge and commend you for your promptly reporting for an interview, and for admitting your actions."

Ridley can apply for reinstatement to the league starting on Feb. 15, 2023. He also has a right to appeal the suspension.

Ridley made several posts on Twitter after the league’s announcement, saying "I don’t have a gambling problem" and noting that his bets totaled $1,500. He also tweeted that he couldn’t even watch football at the time he made the bets. He added that he’s just going to "be more healthy when I come back" and that "I know I was wrong But I’m getting 1 year lol."

According to the NFL, Ridley placed parlay bets that included the Falcons to win during a five-day period in late November 2021 through his personal phone while in Florida and away from the club’s facility on the non-football illness list. The former first-round pick out of Alabama played in only five games in 2021 before leaving the club to focus on his mental well-being.

The league announced that its investigation found no inside information was used or that any game was compromised. Also, there was no evidence that coaches, staff, teammates or other players were aware of Ridley’s betting.

The Falcons said in a statement that they became aware of the investigation early last month and "cooperated fully."

"We are moving forward in the 2022 season with the decision that was made," the team said.

Several teams were interested in trading for Ridley this offseason, but ESPN reported that the Falcons did not engage in any negotiations for the 27-year-old receiver after learning of his potential suspension early last month.

Ridley was due to earn $11.116 million on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract in 2022, an amount that will be carried over until at least 2023 or the time of his reinstatement.

NFL players suspended for gambling:

1963 Alex Karras, Lions

1963 Paul Hornung, Packers

1983 Art Schlichter, Colts

2020 Josh Shaw, Cardinals

2022 Calvin Ridley, Falcons

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