NFL's Antonio Brown Suspension Saves Lamar Jackson, Ravens From Themselves
The NFL, seemingly out of nowhere, announced free agent wide receiver Antonio Brown, who may or may not be retired, will be suspended eight games under the personal conduct policy, beginning Week 1 of the season.
The timing of this move is peculiar, except that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson keeps advocating for his team to sign the troubled wide receiver. The cousin of one of his favorite receivers, Marquise Brown, Antonio has worked out with the two, which is where this all started.
The Baltimore Ravens have been unwilling to put the kibosh on this idea, even if it's only to say that they like what they have, allowing this idea to fester and draw more attention. Doing the Ravens a favor, the NFL becomes the bad guy so head coach John Harbaugh, general manager Eric DeCosta and owner Steve Bisciotti don't have to say no to their star quarterback.
The NFL views the reigning MVP potentially as a face for the league. Jackson is extremely popular between his style of play and the polarization around him as so many doubted him coming into the league and his ability to transition to more of an NFL style offense.
Almost protecting Jackson from himself, the NFL would really like one of its biggest stars to stop talking about signing a receiver who is accused of sexual misconduct by two different women. It's an awful look for a league that has a huge problem when it comes to how women are treated. The Baltimore Ravens are a team that has dealt with high-profile cases involving violence against women, notably including Ray Rice.
One would think that would make this a layup for the Ravens, but to this point, they have refused and the league has gotten them off the hook.
The Ravens and any other team could sign Brown and he would be eligible for Week 9 of the season. Beyond his issues off the field, he has been a major source of frustration for teams when he's in the building.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to hide a lot of issues for several years that only exploded when he was finally traded to the now Las Vegas Raiders, because it leaked onto social media when Brown started taking shots at teammates including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
It's never been a question of talent with Brown, who was on a Hall of Fame track when he was playing. And that would help the Ravens. The dysfunctional personality has always limited what he can offer and perhaps was a reason the Steelers only won one Super Bowl, despite the overwhelming amount of talent they had for several years running.
The Ravens view themselves as a Super Bowl contender, as they should, so maybe they are willing to risk the headaches Brown brings if he can put them over the top. It's just not a good look for a team that already dealt with perhaps the most infamous domestic violence case in NFL history.
For a team that got it so right with the video they released in support of Black Lives Matter, they have not handled this situation well and any further entertainment of this notion, short of exoneration for Brown, only makes them look worse.
Sadly, it's easy to support social justice when it doesn't force a party to sacrifice anything, such as the murder of George Floyd. Everyone can see that's wrong. It's more challenging to be against domestic violence when a person alleged to have commit it could help a team win football games.