‘Encourage Everyone to Bet’: Tony Dungy Rips NFL’s New Coziness with Gambling In The Wake Of Calvin Ridley’s ‘Indefinite’ Suspension

The NFL announced on Monday that Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley will be suspended at least through the 2022 season for gambling on NFL games. Former NFL head coach Tony Dungy implies that it’s hypocritical for the league to embrace and promote gambling and act surprised when a player gambles on games.

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“When we as a league encourage everyone to bet on our games, advertise betting on our players’ game stats, take in big money from gambling sites & do everything we can to get our young people to embrace gambling — We can’t be surprised when this happens,” Dungy tweeted after the suspension was announced.

Of course Dungy is right. Turn on an NFL game and you are besieged by ads telling you to bet, sign up now and get up to x amount of your bets matched, etc. It’s crazy.

The NFL jumped into the deep end with legalized online gambling and sportsbooks. What did they think would happen? They’d collect the hundreds of millions in revenue and not have any league employee making bets of their own?

Yes, players betting on the game is “wrong.” But Ridley wasn’t with the team when made those bets. A technicality, but fair to bring up.

The league opened Pandora’s box by getting into bed with the sportsbooks. Now it’s on them to accept the good with bad. Cashing those checks is great for the people in charge, but now it’s also on them to ensure this doesn’t become a problem.

Ridley took to Twitter amid the aftermath of the news of his suspension. He tweeted he doesn’t have a gambling problem, and he knew he was wrong but one year seemed excessive.

One year does seem excessive, especially given that players accused of domestic abuse and other serious crimes have gotten lesser suspensions. But the NFL has shown it doesn’t care about players or league employees committing those kinds of violent crimes, because that doesn’t affect the “integrity of the game.”

“There is nothing more fundamental to the NFL’s success — and to the reputation of everyone associated with our league — than upholding the integrity of the game,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a letter notifying Ridley of the suspension.

“This is the responsibility of every player, coach, owner, game official, and anyone else employed in the league. Your actions put the integrity of the game at risk, threatened to damage public confidence in professional football, and potentially undermined the reputations of your fellow players throughout the NFL.”

The “integrity of the game,” the sacrosanct Goodell and every sports commissioner trots out to defend their actions.

To find out more about pro football player Calvin Ridley’s one-year suspension from the NFL for gambling on Atlanta Falcons games, click here.

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