Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley admitted to battling depression and anxiety during the time in his life that ultimately led to a year-long suspension from the NFL.
Ridley’s admission came during his 2,341-word article entitled “A Letter to the Game” in The Players’ Tribune on Wednesday, two days after he was reinstated by the league for placing bets on league games.
Ridley, 28, wasted no time getting to the point in Wednesday’s article.
“To the football world and everyone who loves this game: I (expletive) up. I’m not here to sugarcoat anything. In 2021 I made the worst mistake of my life by playing football,” Ridley wrote.
“I paid the price, believe me. I’ve seen all the jokes. I’ve seen all the hate And I can handle it all, no problem betting, I’ve had a heck of a lot more going on.
People also read…
“It’s hard for a guy like me to talk about, but I want to be honest with everyone. At that time I was depressed. I struggled with my fear. I didn’t even want to leave my house That ever gave my life meaning, and I couldn’t even find joy in it at the time. Honestly, I couldn’t even get out of my chair in my living room. Everything was just… dark.
Ridley explained that he played with a broken foot for most of the 2020 season. He had career-high catches (90) and receiving yards (1,374) with the Atlanta Falcons while his nine touchdowns missed just one of his rookie seasons.
“I really killed it on one foot,” Ridley wrote. “Actually, I played through bone spurs in my first two years. I just ground it up with painkillers. But then, in my third year, the wheels came off. Week 8 we played Carolina and I remember looking at it (then teammate Julio Jones) and I just knew. I said, ‘Nah, bro, that’s different.’
“When I got the MRI, the coach told me it was just a bruised bone. So I kept pushing. I got Toradol shots every Sunday and finished the season. Listen, I know the deal. I’m a soccer player .It was my decision.I know what we’re getting paid for,do you feel me?If it’s really just a bruise I’ll be out there.
Ridley admitted he rushed back to the team to start next season because of his top wideout slot after Jones’ departure. He then noted that his home was being robbed after the 2021 season opener when he saw “five or six guys come in with guns drawn. When you have a child, it’s your worst nightmare. My wife was traumatized. She couldn’t sleep at night. She couldn’t stand it when I was out.”
Ridley noted the anxiety had increased by this point – and he left the team after Week 7.
“I wasn’t good. It’s that simple,” Ridley wrote. “I’m mentally strong as they come, believe me. But I really just needed a break. So I retired from the team.”
While he was away for about a month, Ridley said he made a “stupid” mistake.
“I was still so depressed and angry and the days were so long. I was looking for something to distract myself and make the day go by faster,” he wrote. “One day I saw a TV ad for a betting app and for some reason I downloaded it to my phone. I deposited a total of about $1,500 literally just to do something. I was going to bet about $200 on some NBA games that night, but then I just added a few more games to a parlay. I put the Falcons in. I just did it to cheer on my boys, basically. I had no inside information. I didn’t have any. I even spoke to someone on the team at the time, I was completely off the grid.
“Whenever people ask, ‘What were you thinking?’ The only answer I can give is, ‘I wasn’t.’
“When you’re depressed, you don’t think about anything in the future. You’re just trying to get through the day.”
Ridley admitted to placing $1,500 in bets on NFL games in 2021. He bet on games between November 23 and 28, 2021.
The Jaguars acquired Ridley at the close on Nov. 1, sending a fifth-round pick for 2023 and a conditional fourth-round pick for 2024 that could potentially become a second-round pick for the Falcons.
“Right now I feel stronger than ever – mentally and physically,” Ridley wrote. “I fly in the field. Believe me, I’m flying. This GPS band doesn’t lie. By my daughter’s name if I’m healthy? With Trevor Lawrence? I give Jacksonville 1,400 yards a season, period.”