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Falcons WR Calvin Ridley 'steps away' from NFL to address mental health

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Falcons WR Calvin Ridley 'steps away' from NFL to address mental health
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley (R) missed the team's Week 8 game Sunday in Atlanta to address his mental health. File Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Calvin Ridley of the Atlanta Falcons will "step away from football" indefinitely to address his mental health, the star wide receiver announced.

Ridley announced his hiatus Sunday on social media. He did not play in the Falcons' 19-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in Atlanta. Ridley also missed the Falcons' Week 5 game in London due to what the team called a "personal matter."

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"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 wrote in a statement on Instagram and 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."

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Ridley caught four passes for 26 yards and a score in the Falcons Week 7 win against the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 24 in Miami Gardens, Fla. He totaled 31 catches for 281 yards and two scores in five games this season.

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Ridley, who joined the Falcons out of Alabama as the No. 26 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, caught a career-high 90 passes for 1,374 yards and nine scores in 15 games in 2020.

The Falcons picked up Ridley's fifth-year option in May. He is under contract through 2022.

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Players throughout the NFL, Ridley's teammates and Falcons coach Arthur Smith offered support for the wide receiver Sunday on social media and in postgame interviews.

"Certainly wish Calvin all the best," Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan told reporters. "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."

Smith declined to go into detail about Ridley's status, but called it a "personal issue." He said he realized Ridley wasn't going to play Sunday morning.

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"Calvin is dealing with something personal," Smith told reporters. "It's going to remain personal. Calvin's statement speaks for him."

The Falcons (3-4) face the New Orleans Saints (5-2) at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.

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