by Jordy McElroy
In an effort to avoid egg on its face, the NFL has walked a tightrope on the ever-evolving sexual assault allegations surrounding former All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown. Yet, the inevitable might still be a possibility due to the persistent waffling on a subject matter that has clearly overstayed its welcome.
It’s time to put an end to the circus act and lean one way or the other.
Nearly two whole months after the league met with Brown’s accuser, Britney Taylor, they’ve finally decided next week would be the right time to have a sit-down meeting with Brown. It’s almost like they expected the situation to simply go away on its own before finally stepping in and addressing it. In all of their time investigating the situation, did the league not think getting Brown’s side of the story was urgent to the investigation?
Even if they had to fly investigators out to him personally, there is no excuse for so much time passing on such a serious accusation involving a high-profile player. Brown’s latest blow-up on social media was a profanity-laced rant aimed in the direction of the league. His frustrations are actually understandable considering his football career is in limbo, and the league hasn’t given any clarity on what’s next.
Is he in or out in 2019? Will he be placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List if another team attempts to sign him?
Those are the two biggest questions would-be suitors are grappling with when inquiring about Brown’s availability. There have reportedly been multiple teams that have shown interest in signing him, but nothing has materialized outside of phone calls from league executives doing their due diligence on the matter.
“Imagine conforming to a system giving it a 100 percent to see them treat me like this is unfairly ! Making money off my sweat and blood (expletive) the @NFL,” Brown said in the now deleted social media post. “I’ll never play in that (expletive) treat black people the worse! Clear my name and go (expletive) your self.”
Brown has no one to blame but himself for his current circumstances.
He purposely misbehaved his way out of Oakland and ended up in a dream scenario with the New England Patriots, essentially nullifying a trade made by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the offseason. Then he sent intimidating text messages to a separate accuser that brought an abrupt end to his stay with the Patriots after participating in only one game.
The culpability for the NFL lies in them knowing the circumstances leading up to the revelation of the assault allegations and still being too slow to act.
While Brown is innocent until proven guilty, his situation took a more nefarious turn when he texted a picture of an accuser’s children and suggested one of his associates dig up information on her. The Commissioner’s Exempt List has historically stayed out of civil suits, but one would think a text message of that nature would set a new precedent.
And maybe it will.
The league will finally have a chance to hear Brown’s side of the story next week and compare it to Taylor’s version of the events. Civil suits can take months—sometimes even years—to play out in a court setting. So the league is obviously going to have to make a decision as some point, assuming Brown doesn’t settle and another accuser doesn’t step forward.
This problem isn’t going away anytime soon, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is going to have to roll up his sleeves and deal with it whether he’s ready to or not. It’s the whole point of a position that has made him judge, jury and executioner.