Rumors: Former Patriots WR Antonio Brown could face lengthy suspension

Antonio Brown, New England Patriots. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Antonio Brown, New England Patriots. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

According to several new reports, former New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown could be facing a lengthy NFL suspension.

It’s been an interesting year for the New England Patriots, to say the least.

Fresh off a somewhat-unexpected postseason run to their sixth Super Bowl title, the defending champs came into the 2019 season with even greater hopes and expectations attached to them.

Talented receiver Josh Gordon was surprisingly reinstated from his indefinite league suspension just in time for the start of the regular season. Super Bowl 53 MVP Julian Edelman was given a new contract extension to keep him a Patriot for at least another couple years. Most of the key playmakers on all sides of the ball returned (save for Rob Gronkowski), as did most of the Patriots’ major coaches and staffers.

The cherry on top of the cake came when the Oakland Raiders were forced to cut ties with Antonio Brown, who promptly signed with the Patriots and began making sweet practice magic with Tom Brady. Brown was unleashed in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins, and the Patriots had arguably their most impressive showing of the year as a result – offensively, defensively, and even on special teams.

The party didn’t last long very long, though.

The same kind of drama and distractions that ultimately forced Brown out of Oakland (and out of Pittsburgh, for that matter) followed him to Foxborough. Just days after he became a Patriot, news broke that Brown was the subject of a civil lawsuit down in Florida that involved his ex-trainer and college acquaintance. Brown was subsequently accused of rape and sexual assault.

New England chose to let due process play itself out, despite multiple cries from the outside to release Brown immediately. He continued practicing with the team amid reports that the NFL was going to interview his accuser and open a formal investigation into Brown of their own.

And then Brown did what he’s done so often these past couple years: he self-destructed.

A new report from Sports Illustrated claimed there were others like Brown’s ex-trainer who had been put in compromising positions by the talented wide receiver, including an artist who had been hired at one point to paint a mural in Brown’s home. Upon the release of the story, Brown allegedly sent intimidating text messages to the artist, threatening her and her family members if they proceeded to file charges and carry on with her accusations.

The move left the Patriots with no choice. Despite supposed objections from both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady (for football reasons), owner Robert Kraft made the difficult decision to release Brown, and he has since gone unsigned by any other team as he awaits the findings of the league investigation – and the civil lawsuit down in Florida.

Over the ensuing months, Brown has done nothing to help his case. He’s consistently alternated between lashing out at those around him – his agent, the NFL, the NFLPA, the Patriots, Kraft, etc. – and apologizing for his actions and all the drama and distraction he has caused others (particularly the Patriots). He maintains his innocence as well against all the accusations and what he calls “slander.”

All we know for sure at this point is that the NFL has interviewed his accuser as well as Brown himself. We have no idea what kind of timetable the league is operating on with their investigation, or when the public can expect some kind of release regarding their findings.

In the meantime, however, it’s become abundantly clear that if and when Brown does have another chance to sign with a team and play again in the NFL, it won’t happen until the 2020 season. And according to a new report from NESN’s Dakota Randall (who also cites Mike Freeman from Bleacher Report), Brown might not be eligible to play until at least October or November of next year – at the earliest.

Freeman claims through sources with knowledge of the situation that Brown is facing a lengthy “multi-game suspension” of at least six games or so. There’s also a good chance he could be suspended for the entire 2020 season, as well.

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If Brown is indeed suspended for multiple games or even the full season next year, his chances of suiting up for the Patriots again might be all but gone forever.

He probably already burned his bridges with the team after making lewd, disparaging online comments about Kraft, but on the off chance that the two men were ever even able to reconcile (unlikely), Brady could very well be retired by the time Brown is eligible to play again… especially if he misses the full 2020 season to suspension.