Calvin Ridley Talks Suspension, Injuries, and Mental Health

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Calvin Ridley Talks Suspension, Injuries, and Mental Health


For the first time in 500 days, Calvin Ridley walked into an NFL facility. Ridley arrived at the Jaguars facility today, greeted by head coach Doug Pederson and GM Trent Baalke.

Ridley was reinstated by the NFL earlier this week after serving a one-year suspension for gambling on NFL games. That violation occurred while he was away from the Atlanta Falcons, dealing with mental health issues.

Calvin Ridley penned a heartfelt letter to fans at ‘The Players Tribune.’ He detailed the events that led to him asking for a leave of absence before the Falcons were set to depart for London during the 2021 season, a trip he just couldn’t stomach. But he owned the mistake that cost him the 2022 season before Ridley got into that.

“I f***ed up. I’m not here to sugarcoat anything. In 2021, I made the worst mistake of my life by gambling on football.”””I f***ed up. I’m not here to sugarcoat anything. In 2021, I made the worst mistake of my life by gambling on football.”

Shortly before the Falcons were scheduled to leave to play in London in 2021, Ridley’s home was burglarized. He talked about his wife’s fear after watching surveillance footage of six intruders forcing their way into their family home. However, Ridley couldn’t be that far from his wife and daughter for that long.

“I mean, for three years, all those guys in that locker room know how I’m coming. I’m walking in there to compete like hell. I’m trying to take people’s souls every day. Ask Julio. Ask anybody. But all I wanted was to be at home with my wife and daughter… That’s when I finally broke down and told the team that I needed help.”

That was when Ridley asked the Falcons for time. A request that Ridley says some in the organization weren’t supportive of.

“This is where it gets tricky for me because I don’t want to badmouth anybody from the franchise. I know they got a lot of pressure to win and got their own job. But I just felt like some people in the building were supportive, and other people were looking at me like,” You good, bro.”

Ridley detailed playing through a broken foot, an injury the previous Falcons coaching staff misdiagnosed. Pain pills, Toradol shots, anxiety stemming from the pressure to fill the shoes of Julio Jones, and a desire to protect his family.

Those are the things that snowballed into the leave of absence and eventual (admitted) stupid decision to wager on NFL games.

If I’ve learned one thing in the last half-decade that I wish I would have known sooner, it’s that it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to talk about your feelings. Your struggles. Your anxiety. Telling the Falcons that he needed time was commendable. Seeking help from a therapist was even more commendable.

I commend Ridley for getting the help he needed and for doing what he thought was right for his family. I’m excited to see what the next chapter of his career looks like.

A healthy Ridley (both physically and mentally) could be a significant boost to the Jaguars’ offense this season. Jacksonville already boasts a pretty talented receiving core. Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Evan Engram, Marvin Jones Jr., and Ridley will make up one of the best, and deepest in the league in 2023.

Read the full letter from Ridley here:

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.