Is Roger Goodell Dragging His Feet on Antonio Brown Because of Ray Rice?

Free-agent Antonio Brown announced his retirement on Twitter for the third time. Several days later, the former Steelers wide receiver recanted, making demands of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Brown wants the league to complete its investigation of him, which stems from several sexual abuse and personal misconduct allegations.

The seven-time Pro Bowler is anxious to begin talks with other teams so he can return to the field. But, some analysts believe Ray Rice may be the reason the investigation is ongoing.

Allegations of misconduct against Antonio Brown

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Brown denies all charges from a federal lawsuit involving his former personal trainer, who has accused him of sexual assault. In an unrelated case, reports NBA News, the former wide receiver recently received two years of probation and 100 hours of community service for an altercation he had with a moving truck driver.

In addition to his legal problems, Brown has had endless controversies with other players, management of NFL teams, and Commissioner Goodell. One of the best players in the NFL, his once impressive career is now regarded as a public relations nightmare.

What teams has Brown played for?

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At the age of 22, fresh out of Central Michigan, Brown signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The former All-Pro spent nine tumultuous years in the Steel City. Then, in 2019, Brown signed with Oakland. The Raiders released before he ever played a game for the team.

The Patriots picked up the controversial player, only to cut him after one game when they heard about sexual misconduct allegations from two women. Once the highest-paid wide receiver, Brown will enter next season as a free agent. Due to his past and the ongoing investigation, reports NBC News, no team has expressed interest in picking up the troublesome player.

Why is the NFL investigation still pending?

When asked about Brown returning to the NFL, according to Bleacher Report, Goodell responded, “We want to help get him on the right track … The first step is making sure that we are doing everything to help Antonio.” 

The disgruntled wide receiver posted the clip of the press conference on his Instagram account. Brown questioned the commissioner, saying, “I have worked on all aspects of my life this past year and have become a better man because of it. The fact that you refuse to provide a deadline and the reason for the fact you won’t resolve your investigations is completely unacceptable.

The 32-year-old made a specific request of Goodell. He stated, “I demand you provide me clarity on this situation immediately if you really care about my wellbeing.” 

How is Ray Rice involved?

Pat McAfee recently floated the idea on his podcast that the Ray Rice incident might be hindering Goodell and the NFL from ruling on Brown too soon. The sports analyst suggested that Goodell is holding off on announcing the outcome for fear of looking bad again.

McAfee is referring to a 2014 case. The NFL issued a two-game suspension on Rice, who was accused of domestic violence, according to Sports Illustrated. After a TMZ video of the assault surfaced, Goodell issued an indefinite suspension. He said, “I got it wrong with the handling of the Ray Rice matter, and I am sorry for that. I got it wrong on a number of levels from the process that I led to the decision that I reached.”

The Ravens running back appealed the decision and won. But no team was ever willing to take another chance on him. In 2018, Rice officially retired. Now, he works as the running back coach at his former high school.

McAfee contends that perhaps the NFL is afraid of making the same mistake before all the facts are revealed. There is still an ongoing civil suit in the State of Florida regarding the sexual allegations against Brown. It’s highly likely that Goodell is awaiting the outcome of that case. Then, he’ll move forward to avoid the similar embarrassment he experienced with Rice.

Brown is a loose cannon with a reputation for being unreliable. His history of outbursts on social media, combined with his constant threat of retiring, makes him an undesirable option for most NFL teams. Despite Brown’s demands, the commissioner has made it clear; he is in no hurry to get the wide receiver back on the field.