Will NFL try to block Antonio Brown from playing again this season?
Antonio Brown went on a Twitter tirade on Sunday morning in which he said he is done playing football in the NFL, but it’s possible the league wasn’t going to allow him to take the field again in 2019, anyway.
The NFL is still looking into the sexual assault and sexual misconduct allegations that two different women made against Brown. He could be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list at any time, but the league said after Brown was released by the New England Patriots that there is no need to place him on the list as long as he is a free agent. One line of thinking is that the NFL is dragging Brown’s case out intentionally.
As Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report notes, NFL teams think the league could continue to investigate Brown for the rest of the season so his status remains unclear, thus discouraging teams from signing him.
Several teams are telling me they think the league’s investigation into Antonio Brown will last most, if not all, of the this season. They think this is strategic on the league’s part—it will essentially prevent Brown from playing this year.
— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) September 22, 2019
It would not be a surprise if the NFL was taking that approach. There has been so much going on with Brown that it is going to take a while to sift through, and having him remain a free agent takes pressure off the league to come up with a decision.
Brown is facing a civil sexual assault lawsuit from his former trainer, Britney Taylor, but it does not sound like the allegations will lead to criminal charges. He was also accused of sexual misconduct by a woman who spoke with Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated, and the Patriots released Brown after he sent text messages to the woman that could be interpreted as harassment and intimidation. The text messages themselves are likely a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
It’s hard to know if Brown was being serious about never wanting to play in the NFL again, but it would be a surprise if any team signs him in 2019.