Atlanta Falcons’ Calvin Ridley: Rookie explains ‘breaking point’

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The 20-year-old worked with the NFL’s substance abuse programme last year Atlanta Falcons star Calvin Ridley has announced he will “step away from football” and focus on learning…

Atlanta Falcons' Calvin Ridley: Rookie explains 'breaking point'

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The 20-year-old worked with the NFL’s substance abuse programme last year

Atlanta Falcons star Calvin Ridley has announced he will “step away from football” and focus on learning more about mental health.

Ridley, 20, a rookie this season, said he had become the “focus of negative thought”.

“I don’t want to push myself to put myself in situations where I would make a mistake,” he said.

The NFL’s communications director said the reason for Ridley’s break was “determined by his wishes and may be related to recent growth in mental health”.

Head coach Dan Quinn said on Friday: “Our focus is on Calvin, and we will provide him with the best support possible, whatever that may be.”

Ridley signed a five-year deal worth $11.1m (£8.2m) with the Falcons last year and had yet to catch his first pass this preseason.

Before his announcement, he posted a YouTube video thanking fans and teammates, saying: “It has always been an honour to play the game of football, a game I love.

“I am excited about this year, and I’m ready to do whatever I can to help this team win games.”

He added: “I wish the NFL love, peace and happiness, and also it seems like you want me to work and try to become one of the best.

“I want to be a great player for the Falcons, I want to be a great person and I want to be a great dad and a great husband and I want to be a great friend and I want to be a great leader.”

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In 2014, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he had contemplated suicide, while many are turning to the NFL’s personal conduct policy for help.

Players and teams have been addressing its issues for years, but actions are now being taken.

Earlier this week, the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants made statements of support in May, while the NFL said it would review the charges against Washington Redskins quarterback Josh Norman.

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