Falcons’ Calvin Ridley to step away from football due to mental health

The popular wide receiver shared on Twitter that he was taking a break from the game to focus on his "mental well-being."

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

He took to Twitter this weekend to share the news. 

Calvin Ridley of the Atlanta Falcons poses for a picture for fans prior to a game in August at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

“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 well-being,” Ridley wrote Sunday. “This will help me be the best version of myself now and in the future.”

He added: “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.”

According to Sky Sports, Ridley has had 31 catches, gaining 281 yards in five games so far this season. 

During the press conference after the Falcons’ 19-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers, head coach Arthur Smith said, “Calvin’s dealing with something personal. 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.”

Per ESPN, team quarterback Matt Ryan said, “Certainly wish Calvin all the best. 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.”

Ridley missed the game when the team traveled to London, and just over a week later, he explained that it was because of something personal with which he was dealing. 

“I mean, in today’s world, me personally, it shouldn’t matter, you should mind your business,” Ridley said on Oct. 21, talking about understanding his fans’ interest in his issues. “But in today’s world, yeah, I do. To me, if I say it’s personal, that means it’s personal.”

“We are keeping him in our prayers, and any time one of our brothers is hurting, we’re hurting as well,” said Tajae Sharpe, a receiver who started in Ridley’s spot. “So we feel for Calvin and are here for him whenever he needs us and whenever he’s ready to get back to playing football.”

“But obviously his mental health is number one, and the safety of his family and his health,” Sharpe continued. “So whatever he needs from us, we’re going to support no matter what, and we’re just going to try to do our job while he’s away until we can get him back.”

Ridley joins other prominent athletes who, this year, have placed their mental health above their sport, including tennis star Naomi Osaka and gold-medal gymnastics champion Simone Biles. 

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