Discrepancies in Discipline: The NFL Confronts Sports Betting


How many NFL teams are there?

  David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports 

The Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley has been suspended for at least the 2022 season after it was discovered he was gambling on games in 2021. [1] When Ridley was on the injury list for his mental health reasons, he gambled on games over a five-day stretch in November 2021. [2] In a series of tweets following his suspension on Monday, Ridley said he had bet $1,500 total. [3] The NFL determined that Ridley placed multilegged parlay bets involving three, five, and eight games (that included the Falcons to win) on his phone. [4] Calvin Ridley can apply for reinstatement at the earliest on February 15, 2023. [5] Further, he can also appeal the suspension by filing notice within three days, per the collective bargaining agreement. [6] 

After further research into Calvin Ridley’s actions, Emmanuel Acho and analyst for Fox Sports 1 posted a 30-second clip of Ridley’s prior game footage. [7] It was implied through Ridley’s inquiry that Ridley was suspected to be shaving points. [8] In this video it was shown that Ridley was eluding tackles and zig-zagging in the open field. [9] Fans have suspected that he was shaving points, but for an analyst at a premier network to make these accusations make the whole situation that much more severe. [10] Acho was ridiculed for the tweet and it has since been deleted. 

Ridley is the second player to be suspended for betting on NFL games since 2018, when a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court authorized sports betting. The Arizona-Cardinals defensive back Josh Shaw was suspended in 2019 for betting on league games while on the injured reserve list. Ridley’s $1,500 bets just opened the Falcons $11.1 million in salary-cap room. That might be considered the worst odds in gambling history. 

         This suspension in theory might seem fair, but when it is placed next to other disciplinary incidents in the NFL, it is overwhelmingly disproportionate. Ray Rice for example, was suspended from the Ravens for only two games after having been arrested and charged with simple assault after an early-morning exchange of blows with his fiancée at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City was recorded in an elevator. [11] Adrian Peterson pleaded no-contest to one count of misdemeanor reckless assault on his son. Peterson was placed on probation, fined, assigned community service, and suspended for only 6 games by the NFL in 2014. [12] Greg Hardy, was arrested and charged with assault after attacking his girlfriend. He was convicted of assault in a bench trial, but his charges were dismissed on appeal and expunged. [13] Further, Arbitrator Harold Henderson upheld Hardy’s suspension for conduct detrimental to the league but reduced the ban from 10 to four games. [14] 

“I find that the conduct of Hardy clearly violates the letter and spirit of any version of the (personal conduct policy) since its inception, and of the NFL Constitution and Bylaws long before then. The egregious conduct exhibited here is indefensible in the NFL,” Henderson said in a statement obtained by NFL Media’s Albert Breer. “However, ten games is simply too much, in my view, of an increase over prior cases without notice such as was done last year, when the ‘baseline’ for discipline in domestic violence or sexual assault cases was announced as a six-game suspension.” [15]

10 games is simply too long for physically beating a woman? Sure, then let’s give the kid on injured reserve a full season suspension for placing some bets. So, to be clear, you must be convicted of domestic violence to receive a shorter suspension than gambling. That is inexcusable.  Understandably, the NFL wants to deter sports betting by players, but then the NFL should make sure that discipline for all other offenses reflects the significance of the conduct at issue. To do anything else goes directly against the integrity of the game. 

[1] https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/33446869/nfl-suspends-atlanta-falcons-wr-calvin-ridley-least-2022-season-betting-games

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[7] https://thespun.com/nfl/nfc-south/atlanta-falcons/emmanuel-acho-crushed-for-what-he-tweeted-about-calvin-ridley

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[11]  https://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/ravens/bs-sp-ravens-ray-rice-partner-violence-0215-story.html

[12] https://www.nfl.com/news/free-agent-rb-adrian-peterson-arrested-for-domestic-violence

[13] ] https://www.nfl.com/news/greg-hardy-suspension-reduced-to-four-games-0ap3000000500985

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University at Buffalo School of Law Class of 2023
Former college softball player, now focusing on the start of my legal career with the hope that I can continue combining my love for sports with my love for the law.
Go Bills

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