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Calvin Ridley opens up about suspension in open letter

Calvin Ridley opened up about “the worst mistake” of his life when he gambled on football while away from the Falcons in 2021 in a powerful essay for The Players’ Tribune.

“I’m not here to sugarcoat anything,” said Ridley. He cut straight to the point.

“I f—ed up,” began his open letter. 

He admitted he was severely limited throughout his breakout 2020 season — when he had 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns. “I was killing it on one foot,” he said.

“Actually, I had played through bone spurs my first two years. Just gritted through it with painkillers. But then, my third year, the wheels came off,” continued Ridley.

He played through a foot injury that was initially ruled as a bone bruise but was later found to be a fracture.

Ridley rushed back from offseason foot surgery in 2021 for the start of the season but was “a shell of myself.” He played in five games in 2021 and finished the season with 31 receptions, 281 yards and two touchdowns.

He stepped away from the Falcons for mental health reasons after Week 7 and revealed his injury was only part of what he was going through. He recalled a harrowing account where armed gunmen broke into his home during the opening game of the season when his family was thankfully at the game and away from home.

“That’s when I really just started to feel the weight of the world on my chest,” Ridley wrote. “All I wanted was to be at home with my wife and daughter. We were supposed to go play in London, but I just couldn’t leave them. That’s when I finally broke down and told the team I needed help.”

Ridley didn’t play in the team’s Week 5 game in the UK and played his final game of the season on Oct. 24, 2021.

It was during his season-ending absence that he “made a stupid mistake” by betting on a Falcons game. He explained he “wasn’t trying to cheat the game,” and only bet after being “off the grid,” completely away from the team.

“Whenever people ask, ‘What were you thinking?’ The only answer I can give is, ‘I wasn’t.’ When you’re depressed, you’re not thinking about anything in the future. You’re just trying to get through the day,” Ridley said.

His candidness in what was happening behind the scenes and acceptance of his own mistakes was celebrated by many online.