The NFL world was surprised on Monday by the news that star wide receiver Calvin Ridley received a suspension for the Atlanta Falcons’ entire 2022 after the NFL discovered he had bet on NFL games late last season. The suspension was over a group of bets made over a five-day period in November while the Calvin Ridley was away from the team to deal with mental health issues, and involved parlay bets where Ridley did, in fact, bet on the Falcons to win. However, it seems many fail to realize the one main reason Ridley received a suspension: Those inside the NFL cannot bet on games THEMSELVES.
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) March 7, 2022
At 5:29 PM Monday, Emmanuel Acho of Fox Sports 1 took to Twitter and said that if he was in charge of the NFL, he would allow players to bet on games with the only mandate being that if they bet on their own team, they can only bet on their team to win. Of course, this “I bet on my team to win” argument is both lame and unoriginal while having the same effect on the integrity of football or any sport as betting against your own team or one you may have inside knowledge of.
Think about it, you are an average player on an average NFL team, or even a coach on that team. For three weeks in a row, you go to your local bookie (unlike Calvin Ridley, who used his phone) and bet on your team to win, and they go 2-1. In the fourth week, you don’t bet on your team, you don’t think anyone is going to notice that this week your confidence is low, and you were unwilling to place a bet on yourself or your team. By not placing a bet, you are sending a message that you don’t believe in your coaches and teammates in week four, and someone will take notice. This is why making a rule about only betting on your own team to win is a stupid argument used by those who don’t understand that sports wagering is very often like the stock market or real estate … that’s because perception can drive the market faster in one direction than facts can.
The good news for the NFL is that the protections they put in place to prevent a wide-spread outbreak of sports betting from their players worked in this case. Calvin Ridley placed his bet on his cell phone using a sports betting app, but did so outside of Georgia while he was away from the Falcons. His bet was flagged in Florida, where he was at the time he made his bet, by a system called “Genius” that hunts for unusual activities, such as a phone known to belong to an NFL player making wagers on games. The app flagged the bet and reported it to the league, who, after their investigation, suspended Ridley for the entire 2022 season. It was a penalty some considered harsh but needed to be viewed as a warning to the next player to prevent them from making the same mistake.
Every preseason, the NFL warns their players that betting on NFL games will not be tolerated. It doesn’t matter if you bet on your team to win, it matters that you cannot do it, period. Calvin Ridley and others may not like the league making money from sponsorship deals with gaming apps, but those deals are part of the reason why this year’s salary cap is over $200 Million per team. When it comes to sports, betting will always be the ultimate sin, even if now leagues and players directly and indirectly make money every time fans place a bet … the tradeoff is that those involved in every league cannot make bets on their own, or they will find themselves out of a job.
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Here’s Why Calvin Ridley Deserves His Suspension | TooAthletic.com