The Buccaneers have created some confusion this week regarding what they knew and when they knew it about Antonio Brown‘s October 15 off-field incident. The initial statement didn’t address whether they knew about it before signing him; coach Bruce Arians claims that it shows that they did.
Given the report from NFL Media that the NFL didn’t know about the incident until after news of the incident emerged, and in light of the obligations under the Personal Conduct Policy for the team and the player to disclose such information to the league office, PFT sent three written questions to the league office, with a request for on-the-record responses:
1. When did league know for first time about the reported October 15 Antonio Brown incident?
2. When if ever did the Buccaneers inform the league of the incident?
3. If the Buccaneers knew about the incident before signing Brown did they have a duty to inform the league?
The league’s response was this: “We are gathering information about the incident and will decline further comment.”
The lack of transparency is somewhat confusing, but maybe it shouldn’t be. The league currently has its hands full with COVID-19, and it likely would prefer not to spend time worrying about matters like these.
Regardless, significant unanswered questions remain. The rules, as applied historically by the league, give the NFL significant flexibility when it comes to taking action or not taking action against Brown. The league basically can do whatever it wants to Brown, from throwing the book at him to nothing at all, if the league so chooses.
The league also can say whatever it wants to say about Brown, and all it will say officially for now is that it is gathering information.