“This will help me be the best version of myself now and in the future.”
After missing his second game of the season on Sunday, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley announced he will “step away from football at this time” to focus on his mental health.
Ridley, 26, shared a statement on Twitter, writing, “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.”
“This will help me be the best version of myself now and in the future,” he continued.
Ridley missed the matchup against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday to “deal with a personal matter,” according to ESPN. He also skipped the trip to the U.K. to take on the New York Jets on Oct. 10 in London, but last week took the field against the Miami Dolphins.
After the Falcons’ 19-13 loss Sunday, head coach Arthur Smith declined to go into details about what Ridley is dealing with, but mentioned he learned of the receiver’s absence on Sunday morning.
“Calvin’s dealing with something personal,” 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.”
As the University of Alabama alum deals with the undisclosed personal issue, Ridley’s teammates expressed their support, including quarterback Matt Ryan.
“It’s no different than an injury in any other spot. Sometimes there are game-time decisions and you’ve got to adjust. It’s part of being professional and ready to go. I don’t think it affected any of the guys,” the quarterback told reporters. 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 has 31 catches for 281 yards and two touchdowns this season, according to ESPN. He attended all of Atlanta’s practices last week, as well as a community event held by the team.
Last month Ridley briefly addressed what he thought would be a short-term personal issue, but did not go into further detail, when he last spoke to the media on Oct. 21.
When discussing why people would be interested in what was going on he said that “in today’s world — to me, if I say it’s personal, that means it’s personal.”
Ridley is the latest in a growing list of professional athletes who have taken a step back in order to support their mental health.
Seven-time Olympic medalist Simone Biles, considered one of the greatest female gymnasts of all time, made headlines for her decision to withdraw from both team and individual competitions during the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka made waves earlier this year when she said she would not do any press during the French Open, citing a lack of care for athletes’ mental health as her reasoning. That later prompted her to withdraw from the tournament amid her own mental health struggles. In June, Osaka missed her second consecutive Grand Slam event of the season, citing mental health reasons when she stepped back from Wimbledon ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games.