In the previous two NFL seasons, All-Pro huge receiver Calvin Ridley has solely performed in 5 video games.
The former first-round choose was suspended for all the 2022 season for violating the league’s playing coverage.
In an open letter posted to The Players Tribune on Wednesday, Ridley revealed a few of the points he confronted since he determined to step away from the Falcons in the course of the 2021 season. He additionally admitted that he made a mistake when he determined to put a collection of bets on NFL video games.
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“I f—ed up,” Ridley wrote. “I’m not here to sugarcoat anything. In 2021, I made the worst mistake of my life by gambling on football.”
“I paid the price, believe me. I’ve seen all the jokes. I’ve seen all the hate. And I can shoulder all of that, no problem. All I want is for people to understand that, when I made those bets, there was a hell of a lot more going on with me.”
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The Atlanta Falcons traded Ridley to the Jacksonville Jaguars in November in a posh deal that concerned a number of draft picks. Ridley, who turned 28 in December, shared a few of the setbacks he skilled rising up within the South Florida space and the way soccer helped him discover objective.
“Since I was eight years old, I was on my own. It’s crazy but I know the exact date: October 31, 2002,” he wrote. “We were having our little Halloween party at school. Out of the blue, my aunt came and picked me and my three younger brothers up. The next thing I know, she’s dropping us off at some random place with a bunch of strangers. It was a foster home for kids in distress. But I didn’t know where I was or what was going on. No one would tell me anything. It was just, ‘Your mom and dad went away for a while. You need to stay here.'”
Ridley additionally revealed that he battled via a lot of the 2020 season with a damaged foot. Despite the damage, he had one of the best season of his professional profession, racking up 1,374 yards and 9 touchdowns in 15 video games. After the season, he was named a second-team All-Pro.
The subsequent yr, star huge receiver Julio Jones was now not on the Falcons and Ridley grew to become the workforce’s No. 1 receiver. He obtained off to a gradual begin on the sector all through the primary few video games of the 2021 season. In the letter, he famous that his struggles with despair and anxiousness resulted in him being a “shell” of himself.
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“That’s when the anxiety really started. I knew something was off, but I didn’t want to let anybody down. My plan was to get through another season with pills and shots. Do my job. Grit it out. I suited up Week 1 a shell of myself, but I played.”
During his time away from soccer, Ridley positioned bets on NFL video games, together with a parlay on the Falcons that led to his indefinite suspension.
“I just f—ed up. Period,” he wrote. “In a dark moment, I made a stupid mistake. I wasn’t trying to cheat the game. That’s the thing I want to make clear. At the time, I had been completely away from the team for about a month. I was still just so depressed and angry, and the days were so long. I was looking for anything to take my mind off of things and make the day go by faster. One day, I saw a TV commercial for a betting app, and for whatever reason, I downloaded it on my phone. I deposited like $1,500 total, literally just for something to do. I was going to bet like $200 on some NBA games that night, but then I just added a bunch more games to a parlay. I put the Falcons in on it. I was just doing it to root on my boys, basically. I didn’t have any inside information. I wasn’t even talking to anybody on the team at the time. I was totally off the grid.”
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But the previous Alabama soccer standout stated the time away from the sport helped him reset, and he’s wanting ahead to a recent begin in Jacksonville.
“Right now, I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt – mentally and physically,” he wrote. “On the field, I’m flying. Believe me, I’m flying. That GPS band don’t lie. On my daughter’s name, if I’m healthy? With Trevor Lawrence? I’m giving Jacksonville 1,400 yards a season, period.”