Election of RemediesSeptember 22, 2019
By PAUL BOWEN
blood, dirt &angels Sports Editor Emeritus
The late great Al McGuire once said in reference to the consideration of a prospective player’s moral fiber in the NBA selection process something along the lines of “They would draft Hitler if he was 7 foot tall.” Antonio Brown is not a 7-footer. But he can catch a football like nobody’s business. He is also, and we are being charitable, a head case.
This does not make him avis rara in the NFL. But he was too much trouble for the Steelers who gave him away to the Oakland, Los Angeles, Southern California, Las Vegas East Raiders. What makes him unique amongst other assorted pains-in-the ass that populate the League is that he was too much trouble even for the Raiders, who have a proud, if that’s the word, history of getting sociopaths sufficiently grounded to play for the Soot and Silver.
And they got rid of him even before they knew about the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him by a gymnast/trainer named Britney Taylor who Brown had hired to be his trainer. Or so they say. By now most of us have heard of the allegations raised by her in a lawsuit against Brown filed in US District Court for the Southern District of Florida where one of the alleged attacks occurred. You can read the Complaint yourself at https://www.scribd.com. Just type in “Antonio Brown lawsuit” and there you go.
Long about paragraph 39 you will see a couple of text messages Brown sent to Ms. Taylor which will not be recounted in this space. Suffice it to say If he were being sued for being an illiterate, immodest thug, Ms. Taylor would get Summary Judgment granted in a heartbeat. But he is being sued for the torts of sexual battery, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment and invasion of privacy. For which she is seeking monetary damages undoubtedly in the millions. But sexual battery is also known as rape, which is a criminal act.
So why didn’t she go to the authorities? And we know she didn’t because they would have at least brought Brown in for questioning. And they haven’t as of yet. Brown’s lawyer claims it’s because Ms. Taylor is a “gold-digger.” Maybe so. Maybe no. That’s not a defense to a lawsuit in any event. There have been many theories bandied about on this score. Lack of faith in the system. Fear of humiliation. That’s just a couple. Who knows? More on this later.
Perhaps it is this. There is something that her lawyers can do to Antonio Brown in a civil case that they can’t do in a criminal case. They can call him to the stand assuming it gets that far. But, you ask, doesn’t he have a 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination? Yes he does. And he can invoke it in response to any question after “State your name.” Which not only will this look like Hell warmed over to the jury, Ms. Brown’s lawyers can ask the Judge to instruct the jury that they may draw a negative inference to any such response to a question put to him.
Or, he can try to get through cross examination. The problems with that tactic are self-evident. First of all, he runs the risk of perjuring himself. Secondly, from what I can tell about Mr. Brown both from his recent behavior in Oakland and from the general tenor of the infamous text messages to Ms. Taylor, he is not bright enough to stand up to cross-examination.
And if that were not sufficient legal peril for one fact situation, the criminal authorities in Florida are still free to press charges at any time before the Statute of Limitations for rape, sexual assault and being a juvenile cad have run.
Oh sure. Brown’s lawyers say they are going to countersue. But for what? You can’t libel somebody in a pleading. Otherwise, there would be no lawsuits.
Up until yesterday, Antonio Brown was on the active roster of the New England Patriots, who picked him up after he was defenestrated in Oakland. They have stated that they didn’t know anything about the assault claims when they picked him up and perhaps that is true. But they knew about them a week ago and Brown played last Sunday. The League knows about it, or at least her side of it, in greater detail because they interviewed her for about 10 hours earlier this week. And yesterday afternoon they cut him after a second woman came forward alleging that Brown exposed himself while she was working at his home. She also has alleged that he threatened her if she talked. Which proves that if you are going to tamper with a witness you should not do it by text message.
Still, Antonio Brown is innocent until proven otherwise. And he is entitled to a vigorous defense against the lawsuit filed against him. And Ms. Taylor’s story is not without holes. Why didn’t she go to a hospital after the alleged sexual assault? Which means there are no forensics as far as anybody knows. Why didn’t she go to the cops if for no other reason to get somebody this allegedly dangerous person off the street? Why did she continue to work with Brown after he allegedly did something disgusting to her behind her back? Who knows? Her deposition will be no fun for her.
And Brown is still, despite all of his patently disgusting behavior, available to ply his trade with some other team at this point in time. Yesterday, Drew Rosenhaus tweeted that “Antonio is healthy and is looking forward to his next opportunity in the NFL.” Will he get that opportunity? It wouldn’t surprise me. He lasted longer with the Patriots than he should have under the circumstances.
But then again, to paraphrase Al McGuire, “The NFL would play Hitler if he could catch a football.”