Free-agent receiver Antonio Brown already has served an unofficial 14-game suspension, thanks to the refusal of teams to sign him which the NFL conducted multiple investigations that, if he were employed, could have landed him on the league’s paid-leave list. Per multiple reports (confirmed by PFT), he’ll now serve another eight-game suspension.
The reports initially conflicted on whether the eight-game suspension can be served without Brown being signed. Some say the clock doesn’t start until he’s on a team. The NFL’s usual approach is to give the guy credit for each week of a suspension, even if he remains unsigned.
NFL Media (which is, as a practical matter, the NFL) reports that the eight-game suspension begins to run in Week One, regardless of whether Brown is on a team. The NFL has confirmed to PFT that, indeed, the suspension will last through Week Eight (if not signed) or his team’s eighth game (if signed).
The eight-game suspension, per NFL Media, covers two of three pending items against Brown: An accusation that Brown harassed via text message a woman who went public with concerns about Brown’s behavior to SI.com, and an arrest (followed by a no-contest plea) on felony and misdemeanor charges from earlier this year, after an altercation with the driver of a moving truck.
Via NFL Media, the punishment does not include an allegation of sexual assault and rape made against Brown in a civil lawsuit filed last September. Apparently, the league will await resolution of that lawsuit before making a decision as to whether further punishment is required — but also will not place Brown on the Commissioner Exempt list, if he’s signed before the civil lawsuit results in a verdict, a dismissal, or a settlement.
It’s an unusual decision for the NFL to make, given that the league has conducted an investigation regarding the claims made in the civil lawsuit. The league, frankly, could (and arguably should) make a decision as to whether Brown is or isn’t guilty of the civil charges, and act accordingly. The civil suit could still stretch on for months if not years, keeping the allegations of sexual assault and rape attached to Brown, indefinitely.