Looming NFL investigation may be the only thing that can stop Antonio Brown and Patriots

by Jordy McElroy

Antonio Brown looked like a new man in Sunday’s demolition job by the New England Patriots over the Miami Dolphins.

When he wasn’t on the field terrorizing the Dolphins’ secondary, the All-Pro wide receiver was on the sidelines hi-fiving, waving to the crowd and wholeheartedly cheering on his teammates—behavior unbecoming of the Mr. Big Chest persona we’ve come to know. 

In one game, the Patriots flashed their power for the rest of the league to bear witness to the terrifying challenge that awaits any opponent on their schedule.

They may not go 16-0 like they did in the magical 2007 season, but assuming everything holds together on paper, the 2019 Patriots are without question the more talented football team from top to bottom. 

If the 2007 Patriots were Thanos, the 2019 Patriots will be Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet. 

Of course, Brown could play the modernized version of Randy Moss if this story holds together. He had his first practice with the Patriots on Wednesday before going on to lead the team with four receptions for 56 yards and one touchdown in his first game of the season.

A mere teaser of what could potentially be with Brown, Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon on the field at the same time left a grim outlook on the rest of the league. 

Imagine what the team will look like once Brown is fully up to speed and integrated into the offense. They’ll be singing “Amazing Grace” with the Patriots hoisting their seventh Lombardi Trophy and proudly taking in the sights of the NFL wasteland that lies in their wake.  

Yet, the remaining elephant in the room is the looming NFL investigation regarding Brown’s sexual assault allegations. While he managed to avoid the commissioner’s exempt list in Week 2, the NFL could quickly reverse course and put him on paid suspension after interviewing with the alleged victim, Britney Taylor, on Monday. 

It’s also important to understand the charges being brought against Brown are the result of a civil lawsuit due to him reportedly rejecting to pay a $2 million settlement.

As long as the case stays out of the criminal spotlight, the NFL could opt to allow Brown to continue to play while the civil process plays out in the courts, which could take months or even years. 

Unless Taylor sheds more light on her accusations through video, witnesses, phone calls, emails or more text messages, it would be setting a dangerous precedent to put Brown on the exempt list for a mere accusation without allowing the process to play out in court.

The NFL will obviously have to make that difficult decision when meeting face-to-face with the alleged victim about a situation that’s far bigger than anything happening on the football field. 

It’ll be a tightrope act for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in taking the allegations made by the victim very seriously, while also avoiding a premature jump to a presumption of guilt for Brown. 

The Patriots, on the other hand, seem content in continuing business as usual while the league conducts its own investigation. So they’ll be preparing for Week 3 against the New York Jets with expectations of Brown being on the field, unless they are informed otherwise. 

The game against the Dolphins served as proof of how dynamic the Patriots can be on offense with Brown in it. That goes without mentioning them arguably having the best defense in the league as well. Slowing down the explosive receiving corps could be the least of an opponent’s problems when facing this Patriots team. 

It’s surreal to think we pondered whether they would be stagnant offensively after tight end Rob Gronkowski retired in the offseason. Now with the additions they’ve made over the last few months, we could be witnessing one of the all-time great NFL offenses in the making. 

Brown could legitimately go from being Tony Toe Tap with the Pittsburgh Steelers, to Tony Tornado with the Oakland Raiders, to Tony Teammate for the New England Patriots.  

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