The Antonio Brown Saga Reveals NFL’s Disciplinary Flaws

Antonio Brown has been a part of three NFL franchises this season, and that's not even half of the story of his recent downfall (Courtesy of Flickr).

Antonio Brown has been a part of three NFL franchises this season, and that's not even half of the story of his recent downfall (Courtesy of Flickr).

Stephen Lebitsch, Contributing Writer

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Rewind back to the 2018-2019 NFL season, and one might remember Odell Beckham Jr. being one of the biggest spectacles, both in the media and in the league, during his final months as a New York Giant.

Now, as he is settled into Cleveland and trying to make a name for himself there, the epicenter of attention has shifted to a different player of equal caliber. The one difference between these two players is that the former’s behaviors were less egregious.

Throughout the first weeks of the 2019-2020 NFL season, wide receiver Antonio Brown has been the league’s biggest spectacle and a major talking point for the media, but for all the wrong reasons.

Since being traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018, Brown has created multiple distractions and issues within the Oakland Raiders organization and has been the subject of numerous sexual assault accusations.

Punches were nearly thrown at Raiders general manager Mike Mayock, vile comments and other issues regarding former teammates, coaches, an ex-trainer and various accusers were posted on social media, and threats were made to similar targets through text messages which were leaked.

All of these instances escalated this past week as Brown, who joined the New England Patriots for a brief one-game stint, was accused of another sexual assault he apparently committed in 2017 and responded with a vicious verbal attack on the accuser. The attack included group text messages in which he harasses her, saying she started a story just for cash and tells some acquaintances to “look up her background history to see how broke this girl is.”

In a season where the league has already handed out suspensions to top players for known but lesser offenses, allowing Antonio Brown to join teams is a bad look for the NFL and how they proceed with disciplinary measures.

Look back at prior instances of players being accused of sexual assault, with or without factual evidence, and one will find that the NFL took disciplinary action against them. Ray Rice, for example, was suspended indefinitely following his accusation and indictment in 2014.

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt, following an instance of abusing a woman in an elevator, was also punished by the league this year with an 8-game suspension that he is currently serving.

Even Giants wide receiver Golden Tate is serving a 4-game suspension for violating PED policy, using a drug that was not intended for athletic purposes. Tate didn’t try to cheat, but he is still serving his due time while a more troubling player stays active.

Antonio Brown has treated many in the league poorly and his presence gives the NFL a bad image.

It’s truly unfortunate that such is the case for Antonio Brown, one of the league’s best receivers whose talent has mesmerized fans since being drafted in 2010, but, in a time when the league is trying to improve itself in different ways, this is not something it, or Commissioner Goodell, can slack off on.