The stock of Browns defensive lineman Caleb Brantley dropped dramatically after he found himself accused of assault only days before the draft. Cleveland took a conditional flyer on his in round six, making it clear that the team may rescind its rights to him.
As the Browns continue to investigate the matter, so do the authorities. Via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the powers-that-be Gainesville, Florida have yet to decide whether to prosecute the former Gator.
“He has not been charged,” Darry Lloyd, spokesman for the State Attorney, told Cabot. “A sworn complaint was received from [the Gainesville police] alleging that he committed the [crime]. The agency is not sure, and it’s our job to review the information they submitted and make a formal charging decision.”
Lloyd added that, while there’s no specific time frame for a decision, it typically takes 45 days to reach a conclusion.
Brantley allegedly punched Florida student Chelsea Austin in the face, rendering her unconscious and “displacing” a tooth. To be repaired, a root canal will be needed.
Brantley’s attorneys contend that the player was “the victim,” and that one of multiple women who were verbally abusing Brantley punched him in the face.
“Mr. Brantley, in reaction to that sudden occurrence, put out his right arm in an attempt to push away his attacker. His hand made contact with her face due to his reflex reaction,” the lawyers claim.
Chelsea Austin’s lawyers disagree.
“Ms. Chelsea Austin was and is the victim of this incident,” they contend. “The initial police report indicated that she struck Mr. Brantley, but that is simply not true.”
The Browns launch a rookie minicamp next week. Even if Brantley isn’t given a contract, he’ll have a letter of protection that will guarantee him both his normal signing bonus and salary in the event he suffers a serious injury during the offseason workouts. If he suffers an injury, then, the Browns will be stuck with paying him for at least this year — even if they later choose to let him go.
It’s possible the Browns left the door open to cutting the cord on Brantley in the event that public reaction was sufficiently intense to require a separation from the player. To date, there has been no significant outcry.