As we all know, betting on sports is legal for most people. There are age requirements, state laws, and online regulations that allow the majority of people in a lot of different states the ability to wager on sporting events.
There is however a group of people that have always been and will continue to be excluded from legal sports betting. That group of people would be the athletes participating in said sports.
On Monday the sports world experienced something we had not seen in close to a century: A major athlete was reprimanded and disciplined for placing bets. Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley has been suspended for at least the 2022 season for betting on games.
Some of you may remember that Ridley was away from the Falcons team for the majority of last season dealing with mental health issues. This is important to some people, because it means he wasn’t betting on games he played in.
The NFL found evidence that Ridley placed multiple parlay bets, including three, five, and eight team parlays that all included the Falcons. He placed these bets from a mobile device while he was out of state.
Ridley was tweeting like crazy on Tuesday and mentioned that he “doesn’t have a gambling problem” and “only bet 1,500 total.” After he cooled down a bit he also let everybody know that he would just come back stronger from the extended time off.
Ridley is suspended indefinitely according to the league and he will forfeit over 10 million dollars in salary. He wagered 1,500 and lost 10 mil… that’s a bad bet.
NFL Rules on Betting
The NFL rules on athletes placing bets is very clear: you aren’t allowed to. The NFL intends to maintain integrity in the sport by doing this so that athletes aren’t throwing games. The NFL also mentioned in their statement that Ridley bet on other sports, which is not against the NFL’s policy.
Every major sports league has this rule in tact for the same reason. To maintain integrity within the competition of the game. That’s the problem with this case though, because many people feel Ridley didn’t compromise the integrity of the game.
Regardless of how you feel about the moral rightness of Ridley’s actions, you have to understand that he did something that was against the rules. He knew it was against the rules too, everyone does.
Ridley even admitted in a tweet that he knew what he did was wrong, but expressed anger at the length of his suspension. With Ridley out for the season the Falcons now only have one receiver on their 53 man roster under contract for this year.
Roger Goodell’s Message
As Commissioner of the league Roger Goodell had to step up and address this issue. He made a statement to the media and also wrote a letter directly to Ridley explaining the detriment his actions could have on the game.
“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.” -Roger Goodell
Goodell is not well-liked by many and I’m sure this will add to the list of his haters. I’m not sure what the right decision is. It’s a complicated situation and Ridley was separated from the team just before he placed the bets.
Hopefully it won’t become a trend among players. Back in 2019 Arizona Cardinals defensive back Josh Shaw was suspended for betting on games while on injured reserve. These are the only two incidents the NFL has had since the supreme court allowed states to legalize sports betting in 2018.
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