Calvin Ridley fiasco is proof that we should just let players gamble
Yesterday, the National Football League suspended Calvin Ridley, wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons for the entirety of the 2022 NFL season after he was caught betting on games last season. The news caused a shockwave of disbelief and ultimately, took Ridley off the board as a potential trade target this offseason for the Philadelphia Eagles.
To be clear, The Liberty Line are purveyors of gambling services. Any sports website these days that ignores gambling isn’t really covering sports at all.
Sports fans love to gamble. Even if you aren’t looking for exotic parlays or trying to read the tea leaves and pick a bunch of winners, you probably have a fantasy league or two you play in that has some stakes.
Maybe it’s just that the league winner gets a dinner bought for them by the guy with the worst record. Who knows? It’s all transactional. It’s all gambling. Which is the point.
Media sickos have been waiting for a player like Calvin Ridley to slip up.
Calvin Ridley is going to be raked over the coals by every talking head that has been waiting for a player to make this mistake since sports betting became legalized. He’s also going to be lionized by people that are desperate to accuse the major sports leagues of hypocrisy.
Ridley be portrayed as either a deviant or an unwitting pawn. The truth is neither of those things.
The truth is that Calvin Ridley is a professional athlete.
Do you have any idea how competitive you have to be to even sniff the NFL? It’s also safe to assume he’s probably obsessed with football as a fan on some level. You’d have to be in order to read an entire playbook. Most casual fans would go cross eyed after ten minutes. This guy is committing it to memory.
So why risk everything you worked so hard for for a handful of bets totaling $1,500.00?
Well, because he’s an ultra competitive guy that loves football. It would be naive to think that players are only now going to be gambling on the sports they play. We’ll probably catch more of them because they’ll be using heavily regulated apps. Believe me though, if Calvin Ridley had wanted to bet on a game ten years ago, it wasn’t exactly the hardest thing in the world to do.
The answer to this situation isn’t to freak out. You can’t start banning guys for life. Well, you can do that. Baseball has done that. After the 1919 Black Sox scandal, they banned eight players for life when they were implicated in a scheme to throw the World Series.
The backlash from that initial gambling scandal created a bizarre standard of conduct closely guarded by bloated sports writers to this day. The end result is you have two of the ten best players in the history of their game completely ostracized from the sport.
So what should the NFL and other sports leagues do?
I think they should embrace it. Players should be allowed to wager on games provided they publicly announce all bets prior to final lineups being set.
Can you imagine finding out Darius Slay bet the under on total passing yards for Dak Prescott before the Eagles game against the Cowboys? Or how about a Super Bowl week where some cocky underdog decides to bet his entire game check on their team to win? It would unlock a whole new level of competitive fire.
Apparently Calvin Ridley was doing 8 team parlays. What a mad man!
So here’s my proposal to all commissioners of all four major sports. (Five if we’re counting baseball.) This coming season, experiment with allowing players to openly wager in your league’s respective All-Star games. Sports betting isn’t going anywhere. A whole new generation of fans are more comfortable with it than ever before.
Who knows? If we allowed players to wager on the Pro Bowl, it might actually be interesting for once.
Mandatory Credit: Atlanta Falcons