In the fast-moving world of Antonio Brown's developments, a day can feel like life. When the classes lasted and the afternoon passed on Wednesday, the day after Brown was indicted by his former coach in a federal lawsuit for rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment, a question was raised in the air:
Where was the NFL?
The New England Patriots, Brown's newest team, said in a statement that the NFL was investigating, but for exactly five years and three days, there was not a single glance from the nation's most powerful league. Since watching the video of Ray Rice's whipping of his then-fiancée Janay Palmer, the NFL has spent a lot of time telling us how much she cares about women.
Sure, there were some hits and misses on the subject, but the news on Tuesday's lawsuit gave the league an opportunity that could best be described as a lay-up.
No one yet knows who is telling the truth, Brown or Britney Taylor, who chose to make their name public when they presented the allegations, but if we learned anything in the #MeToo era, we should to listen to women.
That does not mean Brown will step out of the league or even suspend him. Not yet and maybe never. OPINION: Antonio Brown becomes the worst in the 100th season of the NFL.
It means taking the lawsuit seriously enough for the time being to accommodate Brown somewhere while Taylor's allegations are investigated.
That somewhere? The Exception List of the Commissioner, the place where the bad guys of the NFL get paid and get out of the way.
The NFL is not a court. It's a sports league that understandably cares about the look. It can also control what it puts on the field for public consumption.
Next Sunday, Brown's Patriots in Miami will play against the Dolphins. Imagine the scene when Brown is in the field. Imagine the players and teams in the league that are just around the corner, when Brown, the man recently charged with sexual assault, gets Tom Brady's passes, perhaps scored touchdowns, and generally becomes the face of the league.
It is not the dream start to the league's 100th season, which the NFL has counted on. It would be a nightmare.
But it is so easy to avoid. Players who have been on the commissioner's list of exceptions over the years include Michael Vick, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy and Kareem Hunt. Some have called it a paid vacation. For others, it's more of a penalty box.
For now, it's the perfect place for Brown, at least for now. He is not to blame for anything at the moment (except the ridiculousness of the past few weeks). Given pending allegations, including graphic text messages that could substantiate one of Taylor's allegations, he should not have the privilege of playing football this week, not in the 2019 NFL.
The League has increasingly become a mirror of Americans society , with the 2014 travel history, the Donald Trump-Colin Kaepernick battle, and a fan base that, according to the League, is increasingly made up of women and girls who account for up to 45% of the total NFL.
The NFL is as much a part of US culture as the #Metoo movement. They exist side by side in 21st century America, and so it should be.
So, before too much time passes, the NFL has to get Brown from the field as long as necessary. This one is easy. Everywhere is the exception list of the commissioner.
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Antonio Brown: NFL Must Put the Patriot Recipient on the Exception List
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