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Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley has been suspended for the 2022 season for betting on NFL games in 2021. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced the suspension on Monday for Ridley’s parlay bets that took place while Ridley was away from the team addressing mental health concerns. The suspension will carry through the entirety of the 2022 season, according to the league.

The NFL claims his betting took place during a five-day period in late November 2021. Ridley was placed on the non-football illness list following Week 8 last season, which ended Nov. 1. Responding to the suspension, Ridley said on Twitter, “I know I was wrong But I’m getting 1 year lol.”

Calvin Ridley is now suspected to have “thrown games.”

While the suspension of Calvin Ridley is undoubtedly harsh, it’s been the well-established standard for decades now.  In professional sports, gambling has been a huge no-no since most can remember. A quite literal red flag was thrown in the case of Pete Rose, who infamously bet on baseball, and in spite of being considered by many as the best baseball player ever, he remains barred from the coveted Hall of Fame for over 30 years and counting. The issue isn’t black and white – it’s green.

To compromise the integrity of the game is to poison the well of every fan watching. Owners understand this – players like Calvin Ridley are expected to understand even better. The spirit of competition depends on each party bringing their best to the table. Yet, if one player, coach, or owner is betting for particular outcomes, the entire team becomes suspect. In most cases, a complete organizational overhaul is needed to rectify the mistrust from a fanbase that will not support a team unwilling to win at all costs or that cheats to win, like MLB’s 2017 Houston Astros.

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Concering the Calvin Ridley suspension, Roger Goddell reiterated the point, “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.”

With Brian Flores’ pending lawsuit claiming Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross once offered to pay him $100,000 per game lost, if found guilty, Ross could be forced to sell the team.

Its been over three years since the United States Supreme Court delivered a landmark decision to strike down the federal ban on sports gambling that prohibited betting on sports in most states. Since then, sports betting has seen a boom with the addition of mega sponsors like FanDuel and DraftKings who make it possible for many to bet from the comfort of their couch.

Perhaps, Calvin Ridley didn’t know the rule at the time, but this lesson will surely be an expensive one he’ll never forget. Ridley may petition for reinstatement after Feb. 23, 2023.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...