On Thursday, the NFL finally will meet with free-agent receiver Antonio Brown regarding an investigation sparked two months ago today, when he was sued for sexual assault and rape. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the meeting will occur in South Florida.
The selection location underscores the reality that the league continues to be in fact-finding mode, and that a final decision won’t be made in the immediate future, possibly for several more weeks. Based on the things Brown says at the meeting, investigators may need to chase other leads and follow up on other facts in the overriding effort to determine who is, and who isn’t, telling the truth.
Obviously, someone is — and someone isn’t. The accuser, who reportedly met with the league for 10 hours, believes that Brown sexually assaulted and raped her. Brown denies all of it. Given the league’s P.R.-driven urgency to police the private lives of its players, the NFL’s in-house justice system will sift through the facts and render a verdict.
Thursday’s session with Brown will go a long way toward fueling that judgment, as he meets with the league regarding the situation for a first time. Eventually, Brown could be summoned to the league office for a session with the Commissioner that could result in a suspension. If the league eventually decides, under a standard much lower than the criminal-court bar of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, that Brown did indeed commit rape, the suspension could wipe out not only the balance of his 2019 season, but also all of 2020 — and possibly beyond.