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Antonio Brown Deserves the Punishment Any Athlete Would Get for Allegedly Sexually Assaulting His Trainer

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If there’s one thing I can say with certainty about the allegations against Antonio Brown, it’s that I haven’t heard one person declare he’s definitely not guilty. Not one. Rational people have raised some reasonable issues involving the lawsuit against him. And the strange timing, coming the week the accuser is getting married, which makes her unavailable to talk to the NFL. And those issues with the court filing are being brought up by legal experts who are way more qualified to discuss them than an aging manchild who wears a man who wears a Rick and Morty t-shirt while typing blogs all day from his patio. So I leave it to them and the justice system to decide the merits of the case against him. Every Patriots fan I know is saying the same thing: We don’t know what went on between Brown and his former trainer. And we need to find out before judging anybody.

That seems like a pretty logical approach. Nobody wants to be caught dead rooting for an actual rapist just because he’s good at gaining yards and scoring touchdowns. No one with a soul, at least. And yet, one thing that keeps getting repeated by the Boston talk shows is an old trope that goes something like, “Patriots fans are defending Antonio Brown because he plays for them! They’d be screaming for Brown to get suspended if he was still in Pittsburgh!” Not because that’s true. But because like I’ve said before, they have contempt for their audience. And this gives them straw man argument to use against them. Even if all anyone is saying is “Let’s not rush to judgment on this.”

So I’ve decided they’re right. Forget waiting or seeing. Never mind letting the process play out. To hell with getting to the bottom of anything first. This situation calls for a swift and decisive jump to a definite conclusion. The details will work themselves out later.

An elite athlete has been accused by a female trainer of sexual assault. And that requires nothing less than severe punishment. Immediately. So we’re left to do to Antonio Brown exactly what we did the last time we had allegations that an elite athlete sexually abused his female trainer.

His name? Peyton Manning.

Peyton Manning

For that we have to go way, way back. To the distant past of 2016, when this became a national story:

According to sworn testimony detailed in an article by Shaun King in Saturday’s New York Daily News, Peyton Manning “forcefully maneuvered his naked testicles and rectum directly” onto the face of Dr. Jamie Naughright, the University of Tennessee’s director of health and wellness, in 1996 and then “smirked” and “laughed” about it. At the time, Manning was the 19-year-old star quarterback for the Volunteers. Naughright was 27 years-old and examining Manning for a possible foot injury. Manning initially denied the incident took place but later acknowledged that a possibly “crude” but nonetheless “harmless” event occurred. Associate team trainer Mike Rollo believed that any contact between Manning and Naughright was accidental since Manning was mooning another student-athlete (Malcolm Saxon) right as Naughright moved her head. Yet Saxon—the alleged “mooned” player—later signed a sworn affidavit saying he was never mooned.

Not surprisingly the incident had an aftermath at the University of Tennessee, although one largely out of public view. Several hours after believing that she had been assaulted by Manning, Naughright filed a report with the Sexual Assault Crisis Center in Knoxville, Tenn. According to Naughright, university officials seemed intent on downplaying the incident and protecting Manning, arguably the best and most celebrated player in Tennessee’s history. In fact, she claims one university official asked her to blame whatever transpired on an African-American athlete and she refused.

Naughright also asserts that Manning would thereafter harass and mock her around campus and in front of her coworkers and Manning’s teammates.

It made headlines again the following year. In the early days of the #MeToo movement, when Dr. Jamie Naughright gave this emotional interview:

And if you remember, the shock and outrage toward Manning rocked the nation. There was an outcry across the land. Demands that he be brought to justice. Protests that all his career accomplishments were now meaningless.

I kid. The public and media defended him, maligned his accuser, making her out to be a gold digging kook and a publicity whore.

Peyton Manning was accused of teabagging a personal trainer and sticking his asscrack in her face. She filed a formal complaint with her employer, the school Manning was going to on a scholarship. And also with the local Sexual Assault Crisis Center. She had a witness who confirmed her version of events. She alleged that not only did the U. of Tennessee cover it up, she claims they told her to blame it on a person of color and that the harassment continued.

And when the story resurfaced in 2016? Crickets. In a case that has a million times more corroboration than an unsworn legal filing, Manning was sentenced in the court of public opinion to a life sentence of being America’s darling, singing us insurance jingles and selling us shitty pizza.

So let’s just let Antonio Brown suffer the same fate. That’s the going rate for being accused of sexual assault by a trainer in a lawsuit. The Peyton Manning matter gave us the perfect, apples-to-apples legal precedent. So now not only will Brown not get suspended, he’ll be our nation’s most ubiquitous TV pitchman in no time. Glad we cleared that up.