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Calvin Ridley pens letter after reinstatement: 'I made the worst mistake of my life by gambling on football'

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley was reinstated by NFL this week after a yearlong suspension for violating the league's gambling policy while a member of the Atlanta Falcons in 2021.

Ridley penned his first comments for a Players' Tribune article published Wednesday, taking ownership of his mistake.

"I f---ed up," Ridley wrote. "I'm not here to sugarcoat anything. In 2021, I made the worst mistake of my life by gambling on football.

"I paid the price, believe me. I've seen all the jokes. I've seen all the hate. And I can shoulder all of that, no problem. All I want is for people to understand that, when I made those bets, there was a hell of a lot more going on with me."

The 28-year-old detailed his struggles growing up, from foster homes to using football as an escape during his youth.

Ridley also revealed he played most of 2020 with a broken foot, generating 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 15 games en route to being named a second-team All-Pro.

The star receiver then dealt with depression and anxiety, leaving him a "shell" of himself. Ultimately, he stepped away from football in October 2021 to focus on his mental health. That is when he placed bets, including a parlay on the Atlanta Falcons that led to his indefinite suspension.

"I just f---ed up. Period," he wrote. "In a dark moment, I made a stupid mistake. I wasn't trying to cheat the game. That's the thing I want to make clear. At the time, I had been completely away from the team for about a month. I was still just so depressed and angry, and the days were so long. I was looking for anything to take my mind off of things and make the day go by faster. One day, I saw a TV commercial for a betting app, and for whatever reason, I downloaded it on my phone. I deposited like $1,500 total, literally just for something to do. I was going to bet like $200 on some NBA games that night, but then I just added a bunch more games to a parlay. I put the Falcons in on it. I was just doing it to root on my boys, basically. I didn't have any inside information. I wasn't even talking to anybody on the team at the time. I was totally off the grid."

After more than a year away from football, Ridley said he's rejuvenated and ready to start the next chapter in his life and career.

"Right now, I feel stronger than I've ever felt -- mentally and physically," he wrote. "On the field, I'm flying. Believe me, I'm flying. That GPS band don't lie. On my daughter's name, if I'm healthy? With Trevor Lawrence? I'm giving Jacksonville 1,400 yards a season, period."

The Jaguars acquired Ridley last season for two conditional draft picks.

"I want to thank the Jaguars for showing faith in me, and understanding me as a human being who made a mistake," Ridley wrote. "It feels so good to be back home in Florida, where this dream started, with a clean slate. But also I want to make it clear that I don't have a bad word to say about the Falcons or the city of Atlanta. That's still my second home, and where my daughter was born. I tried to give y'all everything I had, until the wheels came off. It's all love, forever."

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