Star ATL Falcons Receiver Calvin Ridley Steps Away From NFL Over Mental Health Issues

Star ATL Falcons Receiver Calvin Ridley Steps Away From NFL Over Mental Health Issues


Star ATL Falcons Receiver Calvin Ridley Steps Away From NFL Over Mental Health Issues Photo: Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley (18) warms up before an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sept. 26, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley is putting his mental health first, announcing on Oct. 31 that he will “step away from football at this time” to focus on it.

“These past few weeks have been very challenging, and as much as I’d like to be on the field competing with my teammates, I need to step away from football at this time and focus on my mental wellbeing,” Ridley said in a statement on Twitter. “This will help me be the best version of myself now and in the future. I want to thank my teammates, the entire Atlanta Falcons organization, our great fans, my friends, and my family for all of their support during this time.”

Before the announcement, Ridley, 26, missed his second game of the season to deal with what was described as a personal matter. He also missed traveling to London on Oct. 10 for the team’s game against the New York Jets. However, he did play against the Miami Dolphins last week, ESPN reported.

“Calvin’s dealing with something personal,” Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said. “And it’s going to remain personal on my end. Calvin’s statement speaks for him, and so when we got here today, we talked and put him inactive.”

Fellow teammates expressed support for Ridley’s decision.

“Certainly wish Calvin all the best,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “We love him and support him, and he’s a great friend and a great person, so we all support him as he’s going through this.”

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People also expressed their support for Ridley on Twitter.

“Salute @CalvinRidley1 for prioritizing your mental health and showing the kids that look up to you that taking care of yourself mentally allows you to be the best version of yourself,” tweeted H. Y. Dawood @hydawo.

“Mental Health > Everything. If you aren’t advocating for yourself, who will? Those who love you can only do so much, YOU have to want it for YOU. @CalvinRidley1 loves himself even #WhenTheClockStops,” tweeted When The Clock Stops @ClockSaysZero.

Tweeter Hawaii Keno @HawaiiLife7 called out Ridley detractors, tweeting, “Any1 talking shit or making light of someone coming out publicly to talk about their mental health is the reason why more people don’t & some turn to suicide becuz they feel so isolated & alone. It takes really bravery to talk about it. It takes a coward to put them down for it!”

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Ridley is the latest athlete to speak out publicly about his mental health issues.

Earlier this year, tennis star Naomi Osaka, 23, stepped away from the French Open and Wimbledon for the sake of her mental health. Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles, 24, bowed out of the 2020 Olympics and opened up about seeing a psychologist and taking anxiety medication. Olympic sprinter Noah Lyles, 24, shared on Twitter that he takes anti-depressants and is in therapy. Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Simone Manuel, 24, spoke openly about suffering from depression, anxiety, insomnia, and loss of appetite. 

Back in 2018, Raven Saunders, who was placed fifth in the 2016 Rio Olympics in the women’s shot put, suffered a breakdown. After the mental health crisis, Saunders went public with her struggles, NBC News reported.