Atlanta Falcons Wide Receiver Calvin Ridley Steps Away from the NFL to Focus on His Mental Health

The Atlanta Falcons wide receiver said in a statement Sunday that taking the break "will help me be the best version of myself now and in the future"

Calvin Ridley

Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley is stepping away from the team to focus on his mental health.

The 26-year-old pro athlete announced his decision on Sunday ahead of Atlanta's game against the Carolina Panthers.

"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 his statement.

"This will help me be the best version of myself now and in the future," he added before thanking his teammates, the franchise, fans, and his loved ones "for all of their support during this time."

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith told reporters after Atlanta's 19-13 loss that Ridley is "dealing with something personal," but did not elaborate further, ESPN reports.

"Calvin's statement speaks for him," said Smith, 39, per the outlet, "and so when we got here today, we talked and put him inactive."

Sunday marked the second time this month that Ridley was labeled inactive for a game due to a personal matter, per, which noted that the receiver did not travel to London for the Falcons' 27-20 win over the New York Jets on Oct. 20.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said he wishes Ridley "all the best" as he turns his attention away from football, per ESPN.

"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," said Ryan, 36.

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Ridley's pause comes amid his fourth season in the NFL. He was drafted by the Falcons as the 26th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and scored 10 touchdowns in his rookie season.

In 2020, Ridley collected 1,374 passing yards and nine touchdowns in 15 games. In 2021, he has 31 catches for 281 yards and two touchdowns in the five games played this season.

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