Troy Aikman: Calvin Ridley one-year suspension “seems like an awful lot”

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons
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A crazy week in the NFL began with the news that Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley will be suspended for at least one year for betting on NFL games. Questions still linger about the decision to give Ridley the same punishment that all other players (four of them) have received for gambling on games over the course of more than 100 NFL seasons.

ESPN’s Troy Aikman, whose new better-than-Romo salary is fueled by the influx of gambling money into football, recently weighed in on the situation, with comments to Aikman said that Ridley’s suspension “seems like an awful lot.”

Aikman added that players are told not to gamble on games and that the league takes these situations very seriously, but that it still seems excessive given the NFL’s current relationship with sports betting.

“It seems like a bit much in today’s climate, primarily because there was a time when the NFL was totally against the legalization of gambling on football games, and now that’s a big part of the revenue stream for the NFL,” Aikman said. “On the one hand, you have the league encouraging everybody to gamble and yet here Calvin Ridley is suspended for an entire season.”

Indeed, it’s far easier for the NFL to stake out moral high ground on gambling not skateboarding on a slippery slope. Before the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to state-by-state legalized wagering, the NFL fought the possibility aggressively. In 2009, for example, when the NFL actively opposed efforts by Delaware to adopt legalized sports betting, Commissioner Roger Goodell declared that its mere existence undermines the integrity of and public confidence in the sport of professional football.

“Normal incidents of the game such as bad snaps, dropped passes, turnovers, penalty flags and play calling inevitably will fuel speculation, distrust and accusations of point-shaving and game-fixing,” Goodell said at the time.

He’s right, and that’s why the league needs to whack players who gamble on NFL games. Still, if the league is going to climb into bed with seven different sports books, earning $270 million in 2021 alone, there needs to be some flexibility and nuance. Ridley wasn’t with the Falcons when he placed his bets; he was on the non-football illness list. Also, there’s no suggestion that he used inside information when placing $1,500 (by his own admission) in parlay wagers.

It’s one thing for the automatic punishment to be a one-year suspension when the law prohibits gambling in all states except Nevada, and when the NFL maintains a staunch, church-lady position when it comes to all forms of sports wagering. But when it’s legal in a growing number of states, when the NFL is earning hundreds of millions from partnerships with gambling interests, when the airwaves are flooded with advertisements for gambling on football, when players are allowed to wager on all other sports (including college football), and when there’s no evidence that Ridley did anything other than place bets with no inside information or other complication to the integrity of the game, discipline requires something less sudden and abrupt than the sanction issued by Yev Kassem for a customer who dared to observe that he looks exactly like Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman, even if he really doesn’t (unless he does).

I’m not saying pro football players should be allowed to bet on pro football. I am saying that, with the league EMBRACING the very evils about which Goodell warned only 13 years ago, what used to be the knee-jerk one-year banishment should perhaps yield to a formula based on the nature of the violation, the extent to which it poses an actual threat to the integrity of the game, and whether the player admits to the infraction and expresses remorse.

29 responses to “Troy Aikman: Calvin Ridley one-year suspension “seems like an awful lot”

  1. It is too much time. Make it a monetary fine instead and let the players learn from this.

  2. Just like with Pete Rose you need stiff punishment here. Players gambling on their sport is the worse thing a league would have to deal with. It questions the very foundation of why they are in business.

  3. Goodell’s comments are astonishing. The guy gives instruction to ref crews for certain expectations in the games based on which teams are involved.

    Congress needs to investigate the officials. Get them under oath.

    Goodell has been caught lying so many times, how on earth is he an authority at all anymore?

  4. Tell Pete Rose that a year suspension for betting on games was a lot. I bet he would disagree.

  5. I’m sick of hearing Troy Aikman’s opinions. He was a highly overrated QB. look at his stats.. never had more than 16 TDs in a season. He ride’s the coattail’s of the people around him… Emmitt Smith/ great defense in his playing days .. Joe Buck in his broadcasting days.

    Can’t wait till he goes away.

  6. If the league only earns 270 million per year from the sportsbooks, it seems rather low & a bad ROI considering the bad publicity it has brought.

  7. I like Aikman because he has an actual opinion, not just the company line. But I disagree with him here. The NFL already does enough things to make you question its integrity, being soft on gambling would be fuel on a fire.

  8. It is supposed to be a lot you goof. They want to deter anyone from gambling on the sport to keep the game on the up and up. Obviously the player couldn’t grasp the fundamental rule when they told him. Now the players understand how serious they are to maintain the integrity of the game.

  9. Let’s just let go of the moral ground related to gambling and talk about it contractually. It’s bad for the NFL if players or employees bet on the NFL, because integrity has to be maintained. The NFL therefore contractually prohibits betting on the NFL by players. Therefore players should not be betting on the NFL. It’s not about the amount bet, the team the bet was placed on, or if the player placing the bet could have influenced the game. They just breached their contract if they gambled on the NFL. Players are rightfully not prohibited from betting on any other sports or leagues. It is a completely avoidable situation. If the NFL wants to, they could call out specific violations and specific punishments, but I really don’t think it’s necessary. Just punish any occurrence the same way. 1 year is actually fair in a sense, because the NFL could just have a zero-tolerance policy on this one and ban any player placing a bet on the NFL for life immediately.

    It’s not about if this is worse or better than other conduct violations. The revenue from gambling cannot exist without the integrity of the game. This rule is a straight-up requirement.

  10. Troy Aikman: Calvin Ridley one-year suspension “seems like an awful lot”

    No it doesn’t because these players obviously just aren’t getting it, the short 4-6wk suspensions aren’t getting through to them so much longer suspensions are needed!

  11. 2 rules in football

    1 – don’t commit crimes, especially violent ones.

    2 – don’t gamble on football

    If you agree we will pay you hundreds of thousands or millions or tens of millions of dollars.

    Sounds fair to me, and not too complicated.

  12. I’m sick of hearing Troy Aikman’s opinions. He was a highly overrated QB. look at his stats.. never had more than 16 TDs in a season.

    Nearly identical win % and passer rating as Brady in the post-season.

    Monster performances in the Cowboys Super Bowl seasons.

    Not going to run the numbers, but he would be at the top as far as rating in the NFC Title game.

  13. it would be one thing if he were gambling on games he played in, its another thing entirely when he wasnt involved in the game in question.

  14. Graham Mooney says:
    March 11, 2022 at 11:35 am
    Stephen Ross cost fans millions.


    He really needs to be forced to sell his team. That’s gotta happen. There will be a lot of pressure from Vegas and those in the government that support legalized gambling to make this happen, so I think it will.

  15. Betting on the sport you play (even if you’re on IR, or even practice squad) gives you an unfair advantage and also possibly fixing games. I don’t think he did that but there’s injuries not reported all the time (akaTB12) and players know other players injuries. Unfair advantage and it also can compromise the integrity of the game. He was warned many times to not do it..and still did. Lifetime Ban is in order imo. Send the message.

  16. They have to make an example of the first one. If the punishment was too weak it could put the league on a slippery slope. Gambling in sports is only going to get bigger as it becomes mainstream. Cases like this are going to be much more common, especially in college where the players don’t have the 15 million to fall back on.

  17. bsandersupthesidelinecutsbackinside says:
    March 11, 2022 at 11:21 am
    If the league only earns 270 million per year from the sportsbooks, it seems rather low & a bad ROI considering the bad publicity it has brought.


    It’s not just regular revenue. It’s 270 million dollars that goes straight to the bottom line. And that is in year 1. That’s an insane amount of money and it’s going to grow significantly.

  18. Eagles should trade for him NOW and get him on the cheap. In two months they may lift it.

  19. Not too far off into the future, the NFL is going to be sorry for allowing gambling into their game. There will inevitably be a multi-player, multi-team gambling situation that will rock the NFL and make the Black Sox look like Little League. Calvin Ridley is losing $11 Million in salary next year for a $1500.00 gamble. That it makes no sense is the reason more and more will be drawn to it, like moths to a nightlight.

  20. Ridley isn’t ignorant for betting on games as a player, he’s ignorant for betting on games period.
    The games seem rigged to a large extent.

  21. There is stupid and then there’s extremely stupid and Kamara, Ridley and Ruggs fall under the latter category!

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