By Mardeio Cannon | OBSERVER Columnist

Two African American professional athletes in the prime of their careers are now suffering the consequences of their poor decisions.  I am referring to Brittney Griner, All-Star center for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA and Calvin Ridley star receiver for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. 

Let’s first deal with Griner, who was detained in Russia for having vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. Griner — like most WNBA basketball players — has to go overseas to earn top money because of the low pay that they receive in the WNBA. Most WNBA players earn four times more money playing in countries such as Israel, China, Turkey, Spain, Australia and even Russia. According to reports, this was Griner’s seventh trip to Russia. Even though these WNBA players are earning huge paychecks, life in these foreign countries is not ideal. They have to deal with a different language in many cases, get used to the food and the constant travel.

All U.S. players are told not to try to sneak illegal drugs or out of the country. A lot of these countries have harsh penalties for using illegal drugs. There was no denying from Griner’s camp about the drugs found in her luggage while trying to leave Russia. The penalty in Russia for Griner’s indiscretion could be 10 years in prison. 

As you likely know, the U.S. and Russia are at opposite ends because of Vladimir Putin’s illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine that complicates the situation for Griner’s release. I truly hope and pray that a deal can be worked out for her release soon, however, as she sits in a Russian jail, she only has herself to blame for her situation.


All NFL players are told in the strongest terms to not to bet on NFL games. However, Calvin Ridley, for some reason, placed a series of bets totaling $1,500 on NFL games and was caught red-handed by NFL security.

He now is suspended for the entire 2022 season. His $1,500 bet will now cost him millions in lost salary. Many pundits have argued that the NFL’s punishment is too harsh based on the relatively small amount that Ridley bet on the games. However, I am in agreement this time with the pathetic NFL that you have to send a strong message to the rest of the players that gambling on games by players is a No-No, even though the NFL is in Las Vegas and partnering with betting companies like Draft Kings.

The bottom line is that hopefully WNBA players playing overseas and all NFL players will think twice before they step out of line because of the consequences that Griner and Ridley are facing.