Players Tell NFL To ‘Free Calvin Ridley’ After Seeing The Deshaun Watson Suspension

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Calvin Ridley has been suspended by the NFL for a full season after being caught gambling on Falcons games last year. The NFL handed down the harsh sentence earlier this offseason, sending a message to players about the punishments of betting.

In all, Ridley placed about $1,500 worth of wagers on Atlanta contests in a series of parlays. The bets came while the wide receiver was away from the team tending to his mental health.

While Ridley admitted to the NFL that he did place the bets, “a league investigation uncovered no evidence indicating any inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way, nor was there evidence suggesting any awareness by coaches, staff, teammates, or other players of his betting activity.”

So, while he was betting on his own team, there was no influence on the outcome of the games and no information used to better his odds of winning.

Some fans were initially critical of the ruling, seeing that Ridley was away from the team while placing these wagers. That sentiment has grown tenfold after seeing the Deshaun Watson suspension following an offseason of sexual misconduct battles.

Watson received an initial six-game suspension, though that ruling can still be appealed by the NFL. It’s a far cry from the year-long stint that Ridley faces.

NFL players are now calling to “free Calvin Ridley” after seeing the minimal punishment for Watson.

NFL Players Cry, “Free Calvin Ridley” After Seeing Deshaun Watson Suspension

Many have come out in support of Ridley, saying his punishment should be much less severe. The 17-game ban, when compared to a six-game suspension for Watson, gives the impression that the NFL prioritizes the integrity of the game (i.e., influencing outcomes) over the integrity of its players (i.e., sexual misconduct).

Take a look at the immediate reaction.

Falcons teammate Cordarrelle Patterson chimed in, saying, “Free Calvin Ridley”

Wideout Jerry Jeudy seconded that opinion.

Unfortunately, it’s not exactly that black and white.

The NFL Gambling Policy states that cases are handled on a case-by-case basis, with the commissioner deciding on the final punishment. That punishment “may include, without limitation, severe penalties, up to and including a fine, termination of employment and/or banishment from the NFL for life.”

Four players have violated the gambling policy in the past. All four have received a year-long suspension.

As for sexual misconduct cases, and in this case “non-violent sexual assault,” the precedent set by the NFL has been much lower. Prior to Watson’s case, the maximum sentence was three games according to Judge Robinson. She doubled that punishment in her ruling, and while many don’t think it’s harsh enough, Robinson ruled that you can’t spike the punishment without fair warning.

What the league has to decide now is whether it wants to up their penalty for policy offenders like Watson, which would at least show the NFL is serious about sexual misconduct.

It is worth noting that the NFL pushed for a year-long ban on Watson, and they can still appeal. In the meantime, “Free Calvin Ridley” cries will continue as he prepares to sit out the 2022 season.

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