This year, it’s the Cleveland Browns, and not the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are dealing with skill position players getting themselves suspended as a result of violations of the league’s substance abuse policy. That had become something of an annual ritual for the Steelers, but the hope is that those days are in the past now.
It was announced last week that Browns second-year wide receiver Antonio Callaway, who figures to be in-line to be the number three at the position this year behind Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry, will begin the 2019 season serving a four-game suspension, for the reason aforementioned.
Callaway is an individual who already had somewhat of a checkered past, in relative terms. Back in college, he was suspended by the team for his final season due to his involvement in a credit card scam. He failed his drug test at the Combine. Then in August last year, he was pulled over and was found to have marijuana in his vehicle. The current suspension, it was previously reported, did not stem from that incident (charges were later dropped).
His draft stock had already sunk because of these incidents in his past. When the Browns elected to draft him in the late stages of the draft, a promise was made that he would not let the team and general manager John Dorsey down. He already has, but Cleveland isn’t about to throw him away.
“I like the kid”, Head Coach Freddie Kitchens said. “I think he’s a good person. Sometimes people lump these sort of things into being a bad person. This is a great kid now. So we’re going to support him until he proves us otherwise. He knows what he has to do, though”.
Although the Browns and Dorsey have made some other dubious decisions in recent years related to the evaluation of somebody’s character, I will defer to Kitchens in this instant and assume that overall, he is a decent person who has put himself in some compromising positions and is working to get better at avoiding them.
But there’s a reason they say that the NFL stands for Not For Long. You can only get so many chances to come back, no matter how talented you are. “We’re not willing to put up with” a continued pattern of this behavior, Kitchens said.
“When you start talking in terms of that, the person that it’s affected has to be willing to commit to doing what’s right”, he went on. “So if he’s willing to commit to doing what’s right, then we’re willing to support him in every way that we can, and that’s what we’re going to do until he proves us wrong”.
In Callaway’s absence, veteran Rashard Higgins is in-line to serve as the number three wide receiver in the Brown’s offense, but Jaelen Strong, an offseason acquisition, has been in the mix as well.