What Calvin Ridley did was unacceptable.
Betting on games where you have inside knowledge on a team should be prohibited. And while a full season suspension is a hefty price to pay (specifically his $11 million annual salary), it’s a fair punishment.
Last season was supposed to be Ridley’s chance to be a No. 1 receiver. After the Atlanta Falcons traded away Julio Jones, Ridley seemed like a sure bet to receive a long-term offer to be the top option. But the season didn’t go that way.
Ridley stepped away from the team in October last year to focus on his mental health. He played in just five games, recording 31 catches for 281 yards and two touchdowns.
He then bet on games — including on his own team, to win — in a set of parlays while he was away from the team. Ridley tweeted that he bet $1,500 and that he does not have a gambling problem.
While this suspension will cost him lots of money, hopefully it can help him focus on his mental health and come back stronger.
It’s ironic that Ridley is held to a tougher standard than politicians who can buy stocks and have influence and inside knowledge on their success. Either way, both are wrong, so I’ll digress from that specific issue.
But there’s another issue at play here that doesn’t sit right with me. Earlier this year, former Dolphins coach Brian Flores sued the NFL for racism in its hiring practices. The lawsuit also alleges that the Dolphins owner offered him money to “tank” or lose games on purpose. Tanking has been a concept that has often been used because leagues use a team’s win-loss record for their draft position.
Thus far, there’s been little news on the NFL’s findings.
If the NFL is willing to suspend Ridley for an entire year, it better take these allegations seriously. Ridley’s actions are a potential consequence of a league suddenly embracing gambling and fantasy sports. But what owner Stephen Ross did goes deeper than that. Suggesting a coach lose games on purpose is incredibly worse and Flores’ shocking firing adds another layer to this puzzle. Flores has a direct impact on the games he coaches, while Ridley did not.
Hopefully, the punishment of Ridley is positive news for the seriousness that the NFL takes Flores’ allegations. But if we’ve learned anything about how the league protects its owners, it might be a long shot.
Max Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @maxbaker_15.
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