Taking swift and severe action against Antonio Brown based only on a civil lawsuit would have created a horrible precedent. Not taking swift and severe action against Antonio Brown based on the most recent allegation of misconduct made against him would set an equally horrible precedent.
Brown’s text messages to a woman who had made an unofficial allegation of misconduct against him were intended to deter her from making an official allegation of misconduct, through intimidation and harassment. No employer should allow such behavior to go unpunished.
In a normal workplace, allegations made by one employee against another employee will trigger a clear and unmistakable admonition to the accused: If you intimitidate, harass, or retaliate against the accuser in any way, you will be fired. In the NFL, the entire world is the workplace, thanks to the league’s decision to impose a Personal Conduct Policy that applies in the stadium, out of the stadium, in the season, out of the season, in the country, out of the country.
So with an accuser making unofficial allegations against Brown regarding conduct that would potentially constitute a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy, anything aimed at getting her to not proceed is no different than conduct in a normal workplace that is intended to intimidate or harass an actual or potential accuser.
Thus, if Brown did indeed send those messages, the league should suspend him and/or the Patriots should cut him. Any other outcome would invite other players facing actual or potential accusations to try to scare away the accuser with strong language, claims that the accuser is simply looking to make a money grab, efforts to investigate her background, and subtly menacing efforts to pull the accuser’s children into the situation.
Given that Brown included his own lawyer in the group texts shows that Brown simply didn’t realize the problems inherent to this kind of behavior. Whether he realized it or not, the conduct is unacceptable — and the league and Patriots should take action in response to it, quickly.