Last year, Calvin Ridley of the Atlanta Falcons was suspended for the season after it came out that he was betting on games. He had put down $1,500 on a series of bets, which ultimately led to him missing the entire season. Despite the suspension, the Jacksonville Jaguars traded for Ridley in November. He’s expected to play in 2023 and serve as a nice target for quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Ultimately, Ridley didn’t forfeit any money due to his gambling. The $11.1 million he would have made in 2022 was deferred to 2023. His suspension could wipe out a later contract since he missed a full year of playing — or he could come back stronger after a season off and earn himself a big contract next offseason.
Yet Ridley isn’t the only player to bet on games. NBC Sports reported that a league source said one unnamed player lost $8 million while gambling on games in 2022.
The average NFL salary is $2.1 million, but that’s skewed by quarterbacks — and a few receivers and defensive linemen — with absurdly high contracts. If we look at the median of NFL salaries, that number drops to $860,000.
In other words, someone lost about four times the average salary and ten times the median salary.
How does this happen? Didn’t Ridley get suspended for doing the same thing?
Well, not quite. The NFL has an odd rule that players can bet on sports. They just can’t bet on NFL games or events. Other sports are fair game, however. In a bizarre twist, non-players can’t make bets on any sports. Maybe it’s because non-players don’t have as much money to spend.
We don’t know who this player was. However, if they were able to throw away $8 million on gambling — and likely more than that, as they surely won some of their bets, too — they’re probably closer to a star than someone who barely made an NFL roster.
The NFL, not the NFL Players Association, controls all things related to gambling. And since sportsbooks have a strong partnership with the NFL, it’s hard to see the league changing its policies anytime soon. You just have to wonder how many more players will learn some hard lessons along the way.
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