Former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway was recently cited in the firing of former XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck.
His tenure in Cleveland lasted one full season. He was suspended for four games to start the 2019 season for violating the substance abuse policy. He was suspended again in the middle of the 2019 season for violating the substance abuse policy a second time.
He was subsequently released before the end of the season. Callaway still faces a 10 game suspension should be return to the NFL.
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- How the Browns could maximize Nick Chubb in 2023
- Can Deshaun Watson get to Patrick Mahomes level for Cleveland Browns?
- 3 Cleveland Browns who should see an expanded role in 2023 and 1 who should not
- Is Marcus Davenport on the Browns radar in 2023?
- 5 Free agents from Super Bowl LVII Cleveland Browns should target
So when the XFL started up under the ownership of Vince McMahon, Antonio Callaway was offered another chance at football. But like his being drafted, his signing into the XFL was controversial as well. It turns out that Callaway was not exactly welcome in the league.
As the COVID-19 Pandemic began, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck (father of Andrew Luck) returned to his home. As the league folded, Luck was out of a job. Per Kevin Seifert, ESPN staff writer,
"“Luck received his termination notice April 9, one day before the XFL suspended operations and three days before it declared bankruptcy. The league is now for sale, according to McMahon’s attorneys.”"
Luck decided to sue the XFL for breach of contract. In response, the XFL cited several reasons for firing Oliver Luck hoping to prove he was fired “for cause” thus canceling their debt to Luck. Among the charges the XFL cites for firing Luck was the signing of Antonio Callaway. Per Seifert,
"“Signing wide receiver Antonio Callaway without McMahon’s approval and then refusing to release him when McMahon ordered Luck to do so. McMahon had said publicly that he did not want to sign players with problematic backgrounds. Most recently, Callaway was suspended by the NFL for violating its substance abuse policy. He suffered an injury during the XFL’s January training camp and was placed on injured reserve. Luck’s response letter said that signing Callaway didn’t violate XFL policy as written and that Luck was responding to McMahon’s request to elevate wide receiver talent in the league.”"
Players with talent like Antonio Callaway keep getting chances. But Callaway seems to be a lightening rod for whomever brings him in. Dorsey took a lot of heat in Cleveland for drafting him. Now Oliver Luck was allegedly fired, in part, due to signing Callaway into the XFL. Both are now out of jobs.
Both Luck and Dorsey took a chance. Both have paid the price.
Callaway came into the league with a long history of troubles off the field. During his time at the University of Florida, he was suspended in relation to a sexual assault accusation he was later cleared of by an independent hearing officer. The alleged assault was never reported to the police.
Callaway was later involved in a controversy surrounding identity and credit card fraud. The scam defrauded retailers out of almost fifteen thousand dollars. He eventually agreed to a pre-trial intervention leading to the charges being dropped.
Thus, picking Callaway in the fourth round, a pick Dorsey traded up to make, was extremely controversial. At that time, Callaway stated that he has matured since that time and looked forward to making a new start. That maturity didn’t last long leading to his release.
Is it time for the NFL and XFL to have a ethics policy when it comes to players entering the league? Should teams stop taking chances on players like Callaway who are lightening rods who could strike it big?
Absolutely not! The NFL should continue taking chances on players like Callaway. Smart general managers will wait to draft players like Callaway in the last few rounds of the draft. But these players are still a draft at your own risk.
Teams should greet these chance players with a zero tolerance policy. To the Browns credit, they eventually cut ties with Callaway. But that was only after multiple league offenses and several team offenses.
Teams need to take chances. Sometimes it works out. More often than not it does not work out. In some extreme cases, people get fired. It’s safe to say Callaway is done as a football player.