Calvin Ridley says he needed painkillers to play through misdiagnosed foot injury

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Jaguars receiver Calvin Ridley, who has just been reinstated to the NFL after a year-long suspension for gambling on games, says that during his time with the Falcons, he played through a misdiagnosed foot injury and needed painkillers to do it.

“Hardly anybody knows this, but I played most of the 2020 season with a broken foot,” Ridley wrote at “Remember that 1,300-yard season? Nine touchdowns? I was killing it on one foot, for real. Actually, I had played through bone spurs my first two years. Just gritted through it with painkillers. But then, my third year, the wheels came off. Week 8, we were playing Carolina and I remember looking at Julio [Jones] and I just knew. I said, ‘Nah, bro, this is different. My shit broke.’

“When I got the MRI, though, the trainer told me it was just a bone bruise. So I kept it pushing. I took Toradol shots every Sunday, and I finished the season. Listen, I know the deal. I’m a football player. It was my decision. I know what we get paid for, you feel me? If it’s really just a bruise, I’m gonna be out there.

“We finished 4–12, and then the whole staff got fired. Coach, GM, head trainer, everybody. When the new trainer finally came in, he sent me to a specialist in Green Bay. Within the first hour, the doctor said, ‘Your foot is definitely broken.’”

Ridley says that having to rely on painkillers affected his mental health, ultimately leading to him taking a leave of absence from the Falcons.

“I still couldn’t plant without painkillers. So you get trapped in this cycle where it’s like, ‘If you take this pill, you can run,” Ridley writes. “After practice, once that painkiller wears off, you still have to come home and be a husband and a father. . . . I can’t even do anything but lie around in a dark room. That’s when the anxiety really started. I knew something was off, but I didn’t want to let anybody down. My plan was to get through another season with pills and shots. Do my job. Grit it out. I suited up Week 1 a shell of myself, but I played.”

Ridley says the only time he gambled on football was during that leave of absence, when he was just trying to find something to do. He says he’s now in a better place both physically and mentally, and that he’s ready to have a big season for the Jaguars.

8 responses to “Calvin Ridley says he needed painkillers to play through misdiagnosed foot injury

  1. So why was this never reported by the Falcons? Leaving fans to speculate on the players actual commitment to the game rather then just dealing with injury.could that have influenced the lengthy suspension? Why are teams so hesitant to report injuries? This should be investigated

  2. I’m a Buffalo fan & fantasy fan. Kinda love Ridley for shooting straight here. Good luck to this man 👍

  3. Hard not to root for this young man. I hope he has a great season in Jacksonville this year.

  4. Seems a genuine person and really respect his candid / honest explanation. Not a Jags fan but hope he has a career year to get paid next off-season

  5. Another idiot like Trent Williams who thinks the team physician is his primary care one.

  6. Wait. So he played a whole season on a misdiagnosed broken foot. A new coach, GM, and training staff comes in an he finally gets correctly diagnosed, but he’s still out there taking painkillers and playing on a broken foot the next season?

  7. Jags need a big, strong true #1 receiver. I hope this guy is the one because their offense will be scary.

  8. You have to wonder how many NFL players use Toradol shots and pain pills like Ridley to get through games. It seemed obvious to me that Mahomes was given something at halftime of the SB to come back and play so well on that hurt ankle. No one asked him about though.

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