Antonio Brown’s Downward Spiral

Nicholas L Shimanek

Antonio Brown, once the highest-payed wide receiver in the NFL, has been accused of sexual assault and rape by his former personal trainer Britney Taylor. Her case involves three incidents that allegedly occurred in 2017 and 2018. She also claims to have been stalked and harassed by Brown and some of his associates.

2019’s Superbowl was viewed by 98 million people in the United States. American football is our nation’s most popular sport, making the NFL an incredibly influential organization in American society. NFL players are massively wealthy superstars, and their exploits are discussed and meticulously analyzed by millions of people every day.

Children and adults both view many of these players as their personal heroes, and the names and faces of these players are so well-known and respected that jerseys, clothing, posters and other accessories of the various NFL teams are an important piece of America’s iconography. Therefore, these superstars have numerous expectations of professional conduct.

However, it seems that every year or so another player like Antonio Brown shows that not every idol deserves to be idolized. For years, he created a reputation of being the best wide receiver in the NFL, and his on-field play earned him his massive salary. This long career has been permanently stained by the fallout of this year’s events.

Along with facing yet another accusation of sexual assault from an unnamed woman, he is currently dealing with several smaller lawsuits from other personal trainers, chefs, landlords and more, mostly surrounding Brown failing to pay those who service him.

Brown was recently cut from the New England Patriots, shortly after playing a single game for the team, after they discovered threatening messages he was seemingly sending to a woman who was accusing him of sexual harassment. Prior to this, he was released by the Oakland Raiders, according to Brown’s own public requests.

In response, Brown has filed grievances against both teams to regain the up to $60 million of potential earnings that he lost because he was unable to play for them. Talking about the Patriots on an Instagram live feed, he said, “They have to pay me, so why not let me earn it?”

Screenshots have been released that show Brown had sent messages to one of his friends and one of his lawyers, asking them to “look up her background” regarding Britney Taylor. She filed a civil suit against Brown on September 10 of this year.

On October 8, Taylor removed her suit from the Federal court system, and refiled her case in Florida. This suit included new evidence, such as messages sent by Taylor this January. She discussed being raped by a person she described as “very famous” and stated that she may not be believed if she would go forward with her accusation.

A screenshot of these messages shows her saying; “Like would people believe me I’m scared honestly… I own a gymnastics institution and I obviously mentor other young girls. … I would never want this to happen to one of my girls nor do I want them to look at me differently because this has happened to me.”

Antonio Brown has denied all allegations and has recently made his intentions to return to the NFL known to the public. Despite NFL investigators’ desire to speak with him, sources have reported to Yahoo news that Brown has avoided speaking to them.

This is far from the first time NFL must have felt flustered by the question: What do we do with players who have been accused, or even convicted of committing serious crimes? NLF leadership must find a way to respond to these situations in a responsible and ethical way for the sake of the millions of Americans who watch and learn from their every move.