Why the Calvin Ridley suspension should be a PR nightmare for the NFL, but it’s not

Personal opinion: Calvin Ridley should be playing football right now.

Grant G. Leonard
4 min readSep 16, 2022


Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The 2022 NFL season kicked off last week, and with it the biggest betting bonanza in all of casino gaming. There is no comparison for the amount of money wagered on NFL games in the sports betting market. Football reigns king.

Even though it’s somewhat old news at this stage in the media cycle, I find it interesting that Atlanta Falcons star wide receiver Calvin Ridley is still sitting on the sidelines. The NFL suspended Ridley for at least the 2022 season, handing down the ruling in March, for betting on games during a leave of absence from the Falcons during the 2021 campaign. Flashy headline, eh? Commissioner Roger Goodell said the following in the NFL’s press release on the matter:

“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. This is the responsibility of every player, coach, owner, game official, and anyone else employed in the league. Your 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.”

If you look no further than these two press hits, then you may think Ridley is the bad guy and Goodell is the good guy here, swooping in to rid the league of any threats to its sanctity. But, let’s look further.

Allegedly, Ridley bet $1500 (according to himself, or $3900 according to this source) on some games around Thanksgiving — one of the most prolific betting weeks all season. That’s not even 0.5% of his $11.1 million annual salary he’s set to miss out on during his suspension, and even less if you factor in endorsements. During my stint in the casino gaming industry as a communications manager, I helped shout the principles of responsible gaming from the rooftops, and how no more than 10% of a patron’s disposable income should be spent on gambling products. The vast majority of retail-level gamblers won’t make in several lifetimes what Calvin Ridley makes in even one month of an NFL season. Furthermore, he also…



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