The NFL’s latest investigation into New York Giants kicker Josh Brown’s domestic violence case, in light of what the league called new evidence regarding his written confessions in journals, will result in a lengthy suspension if the veracity of those journals is upheld, league sources told CBS Sports.
The NFL informed Brown on Friday that, “pursuant to the Personal Conduct Policy,” he has been placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, “on a limited and temporary basis to permit the league fully to review the materials and determine whether further action is necessary.”
While Brown is on the exempt list, he is not permitted to practice or attend games, but he will continue to be paid in accordance with the terms of his contract.
The NFL has 165 pages of new evidence released by law enforcement to sort through, which includes graphic and disturbing journal passages that Brown wrote as part of his treatment.
The league must also complete interviews with Brown and others before weighing further punishment; he appealed his one-game suspension for violating the personal conduct policy this summer but it was upheld, keeping Brown out for Week 1. Under the NFL’s domestic violence policy, a player can be suspended six games for a first offense.
League officials are adamant that at the time of their initial ruling they had what they deemed to be “credible evidence” of a domestic incident, only that an incident occurred between Brown and his now ex-wife, Molly Brown, when he grabbed a phone out of her hands. The journals released this week detail what appears to be serial domestic abuse.
The NFL was aware that Molly Brown had also called security during the Pro Bowl in 2016, and was moved to a new room after claiming her husband had been banging on the door and yelling, but league sources said Brown was not present when security officials arrived and that there was not much information available regarding that situation beyond that complaint.
At this point the NFL is unsure if the Giants were privy to any information they were not (owner John Mara indicated in a radio interview that the team was aware of physical abuse), or if the team withheld any pertinent information regarding this case, sources said, as the league ran an independent investigation from the club. It will be looking into these issues as part of the review.
Executives from several other clubs have voiced their displeasure with me privately about how the Giants and the NFL handled this case, noting what they believe is a very cozy relationship between the Giants and commissioner Roger Goodell and speculating as to whether Brown’s small suspension was an indication of that. League officials refute that notion strongly, and an NFL source was adamant that Goodell had no discussions with Giants officials about Brown’s investigation while it was ongoing. Regardless, it has presented a perception problem for the league.
The league is adamant that it pushed hard on multiple fronts to receive any and all pertinent information from law enforcement before reaching its decision and ultimately made the initial ruling before the season based on the information they had. The league is not commenting on the matter until this latest review is complete, beyond a statement it released on Thursday.
The Giants signed kicker Robbie Gould on Thursday and he immediately flew to London to join the team ahead of Sunday’s game. Sources said Gould was given the indication that this will be more than a one- or two-week experiment with the specter of additional discipline very real for Brown, who Giants coach Ben McAdoo said the team continues to “support.”
Brown’s career could very well be over. Former Ravens Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice has been unable to get a tryout since video of him striking his wife surfaced, and Brown’s journal entry would give any owner pause under these circumstances. Brown is also a kicker who was not a hotly pursued free agent even prior to the domestic violence issues coming to light.