Calvin Ridley Suspended For 2022 Season Amidst Gambling Scandal
Earlier in the week, Ian Rapaport broke some shocking news that shook up the entire NFL. Superstar wide receiver, Calvin Ridley of the Atlanta Falcons has been suspended for the entire 2022 season after it was revealed that he had gambled on various sports including NFL games. It was originally reported that Ridley had placed $1500 worth of wagers on three, five, and eight-team parlays that the Falcons were a part of. Ridley was not playing in those games due to a non-football illness. Ridley then tweeted that he only bet $1500 and wasn't a gambling addict.
Since sports betting was legalized in many states just a few years back, this is the first well-publicized incident of an American athlete gambling on sports. With concerns of the legal industry possibly corrupting sports, this is the first black mark the gambling industry has had in that regard. The incident seemed minor enough, but as of today, further details have come to light. The amount went from $1500 to $3900, and there are now six reported Falcons’ games in which Ridley placed wagers, including a $1300 live in-game wager in which he bet on the Falcons’ team total. It was also reported that Ridley wagered over $32,000 on other sports and leagues as well.
Fantasy Impact Of Calvin Ridley Suspension
With Ridley out of the picture for the season and possibly the foreseeable future, second-year standout tight end Kyle Pitts is poised to solidify himself as a dominant weapon in the NFL and fantasy football. As Travis Kelce begins to wind down his career, it’s only a matter of time before Pitts becomes the perennial top fantasy tight end.
As for the rest of the Falcons’ offense, a good majority of their playmakers are currently free agents including Cordarrelle Patterson, Olamide Zaccheus, Russell Gage, Hayden Hurst, and Tajae Sharp. Assuming all of these players return to Atlanta with Matt Ryan under center, Gage and Zaccheus stand to gain a bump in production. Patterson, who had a career year, now has a more realistic chance of repeating his production from 2021. With the Falcons holding the eighth overall pick and having free-agent decisions to make, it is likely they spend some draft capital on a receiver and possibly let some of the aforementioned go. The 2022 NFL Draft class has some solid options for the Falcons to draft in place of Ridley and the recently departed Julio Jones.
Sports Betting Impact Of Calvin Ridley Suspension
Calvin Ridley’s stock had already been on a downward trend last year. After having a very mediocre start to the season, he then sat out several games due to mental health issues. It was during this time that Ridley placed these wagers. The Falcons now have only one real threat through the air in Kyle Pitts. Already a weak team in the 2021 season, the Falcons losing Ridley probably bumps their season total down by a game. The Falcons opened at an Over/Under of 7.5 games. I wouldn’t be surprised if losing Ridley knocks them down to 6.5. Besides losing their best wide receiver, the perception in the sports and sports gambling world is that there is trouble afoot in the Falcons’ organization. Perception can be a reality in the gambling world, and as a result, the odds can change based on what people think.
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Falcons are now expected to finish last in the NFC South. It’s no surprise that the Buccaneers are favored to win the division with their offensive firepower. Atlanta went 7-10 last season, finishing third in the division. The Bucs finished 13-4 but teetered out in the postseason to the eventual Super Bowl champs. Although Tom Brady is still playing at an MVP level, recent rumors suggest that Brady may be headed to the San Francisco 49ers. If that happens, despite the Falcons’ lack of talent on both sides of the ball, this division would be winnable (similar to the atrocious NFC East). 10 victories could earn a franchise the NFC South if Brady leaves Tampa Bay. The Saints are a great organization but the era of Drew Brees and Sean Payton has come to an end. Yes, they have Alvin Kamara but the ongoing Michael Thomas saga and the lack of a true franchise quarterback are huge issues that New Orleans needs to address. The Carolina Panthers finished dead last in the division last year despite starting 3-0. It’s pretty clear that Sam Darnold is not the answer at the quarterback position. Carolina has Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore but most top-tier NFL teams feature elite quarterbacks. The Panthers don’t have that, plus their defense leaves plenty to be desired. If Brady is traded, Matty Ice will become the best quarterback in the division.
Although it’s a long-shot bet, I’d recommend throwing $20 bucks or so on Atlanta winning the division. Everything has to align perfectly for the Falcons to actually pull it off but this team did win seven games without Ridley for the majority of the season in 2021. An early draft pick will only improve their roster.
Did The NFL Get It Right?
At this point in time with details continuing to come out about Ridley’s gambling and what really happened, it’s becoming a little more of a grey area when asking the question of how harshly Ridley should be punished. When you consider some of the punishments that the NFL has handed down over the years with domestic violence, drunk driving, unregistered weapons, and other infractions, it’s pretty obvious that there is a major issue with how they punish their players.
Most of the general public would consider these incidents much more serious than Ridley betting a few thousand dollars on NFL Games that he didn’t even participate in. However, this situation is getting much blurrier when you consider that Ridley has now been caught lying about the details. While domestic violence is on its face much more of an issue than gambling a few bucks, Ridley’s decisions directly affect the NFL, its product, and its reputation with gambling platforms. If this kind of incident continued to happen with more players, it would severely damage the brand and could ruin the burgeoning business of sports wagering.
Personally, I think the NFL got it wrong, as the punishment had already been handed down as the news was broken to the world. At that time, there seemed to be very little information on what exactly Ridley bet on, and how much. Obviously, the NFL has a zero-tolerance policy on sports wagering amongst its players and employees. Should that mean that any infraction means you’re suspended for a time that’s exponentially longer than men who commit violent crimes? With more dirt coming out about this incident, shouldn’t it mean that Ridley is suspended longer than his initial one-season ban? Perhaps Roger Goodell knew the exact details, which is why he issued such a harsh punishment, to begin with. Still, Ridley doesn’t deserve to be suspended an entire season. The NFL needs to set an example. But an eight-game suspension or even a four-game suspension would do the trick. While Ridley is clearly in the wrong here, there are worse ways in which players can damage the integrity of the sport. Had Ridley bet on his player props or games that he participated in, I think the punishment would be more fitting.
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