Arthur Blank: Calvin Ridley ‘may feel like (he) needs a fresh start someplace else’

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

LOS ANGELES — Falcons owner Arthur Blank believes that wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who left the team midseason to address his mental well-being, may want to play for another team.

“He wants to play, and we continue to find ways to support him,” Blank told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday. “Hopefully, he’ll elect to stay with us and play with us. But you just don’t know. I mean, he may feel like (he) needs a fresh start someplace else for whatever reason, but we, you know, we love the young man.”

Ridley left the team Oct. 31 before the Falcons were set to play the Panthers and did not return.

“It’s very difficult because he’s a great young man,” Blank said. “And, you know, we all go through trauma in our lives in one form or fashion. Sadly, his, I mean, his trauma came out, obviously this year and triggered by a variety of things. He’s getting all of the professional counseling that anybody could expect him to get. And he’s been great about it. He cares deeply about football.”

Ridley, who played at Alabama and was a first-round pick in 2018, was on an upward arc in the NFL as he was in his fourth season in the league.

“I loved his performance,” Blank said. “He always got a smile on his face. Always got a handshake, very respectful. So, you know, we’ll see. But that during this difficult time for him we’ve stood by his side, which is what we should do.”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith also noted that Ridley has access to health and wellness treatment.

“Back in 2014, we set up a comprehensive mental health and wellness services for all of our members,” Smith said. “I’m proud to say that anyone who needs help we can provide that help anywhere in the world, 24 hours where the player never has to pay for it and more importantly no one has to know about it. ... Our job is take care of our men as much as we can off the field and as much as we can on the field.”

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