A long-awaited day for wide receiver Calvin Ridley is finally here. As of Wednesday, Feb. 15, the 28-year-old is eligible to apply for reinstatement from the NFL’s 2022 season suspension after he bet on games in 2021.
Eager to return to the field, Ridley has reportedly already moved forward with the application process.
Almost two years removed from his most recent NFL performance, Ridley responded to ESPN insider Adam Schefter’s Tweet acknowledging the date with a red heart emoji. He also Tweeted “Can’t wait man,” in January.
The Atlanta Falcons were made aware of the league’s investigation on Feb. 9, 2022. Ridley was suspended in March, while on a mental health related leave from the team. According to the NFL, nothing indicated that Ridley's teammates or coaches in Atlanta were aware of his gambling and no “game was compromised in any way.”
No stranger to expressing himself on social media, Ridley spoke out about the length of the suspension shortly after it was issued. He stated on Twitter that he did not "have a gambling problem" and bet $1500 total during a time where he "couldn't even watch football."
Ridley's suspension came during an interesting time for the NFL. As the league levied its punishment to the wideout, former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores' lawsuit alleged that team owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 for every loss he tallied in 2019.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a statement that Ridley's actions "put the integrity of the game at risk, threatened to damage public confidence in professional football, and potentially undermined the reputations of your fellow players throughout the NFL."
Still, there was debate about whether Ridley's suspension was too harsh. Comparisons were commonly drawn between his case and those off quarterback Deshaun Watson and wideout DeAndre Hopkins. Both were initially suspended for six games after sexual misconduct allegations and testing positive for trace amounts of a PED, respectively.
The Jaguars traded for Ridley in November, sending a package of draft picks worth 2023 fifth-rounder and a 2024 second-rounder at maximum, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Ridley only appeared in five games in 2021, but recorded 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020. The Jaguars will welcome him after an impressive 2022 season that culminated in a divisional round playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Young quarterback Trevor Lawrence finished as one of nine quarterbacks to throw for at least 4,000 yards and completed 66.3% of his passes. With Ridley as an additional target, Jacksonville is poised to be a threat in the AFC South division.