If the Raider are determined to keep receiver Antonio Brown off the field for Monday night’s game against the Broncos, there’s nothing he can do about it.
While Brown has the right to appeal a suspension without pay for conduct detrimental to the team, the Raiders can’t be forced to put him on the field. Teams have the absolute right to deactivate a player from the game-day roster, and if they choose not to put Brown in uniform for Monday night, that’s their prerogative.
Although the 2006 labor deal took away the ability of a team to send a guy home with pay (like Raiders coach Jon Gruden once did to Buccaneers receiver Keyshawn Johnson), a team can’t be forced to play a player. In every game, seven players on the active roster are kept from dressing. Brown can be one of them, and there’s nothing Brown can do about it.
If it’s a multi-game suspension, an appeal could be pursued on an expedited basis. Again, even if he wins reinstatement during the suspension, Brown cannot force his way onto the field.
Still, it could be important for Brown to file an appeal. With $29.125 million in guaranteed salary riding on whether the suspension sticks, it would be stupid not to fight it.
Then again, Brown has done plenty of stupid things this year. So maybe not fighting it would be on brand.