NFL slaps Callaway with four-game ban for substance abuse
Browns WR eligible to return Sept. 30
Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway has stepped out of bounds again.
The NFL suspended Callaway four games without pay on Friday for an unspecified violation of the league’s policy and program on substance abuse. Callaway will sit out the first four regular-season games.
The 22-year-old can practice and play in preseason games before his suspension begins. He will be eligible to return to the Browns’ active roster on Sept. 30, the day after the team plays in Baltimore.
Callaway started Thursday night’s exhibition opener against Washington because Browns coach Freddie Kitchens rested star receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. He finished with three receptions for 42 yards.
“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Callaway said in a news release sent by the Browns. “I made a mistake and I own that. I have taken steps to make myself better and I appreciate the Browns standing by me and supporting me during this time. I know there’s nothing I can say to regain trust; it will all be about my actions.”
Browns general manager John Dorsey said the team was disappointed by Callaway’s actions.
“Freddie and I have had a direct conversation with him about where we stand,” Dorsey said. “He understands our expectations of him. We will continue to support him as long as he remains committed to taking advantage of the resources made available to him by our club and the league to help him become the best version of himself as a person first and foremost.”
The Browns drafted Callaway in the fourth round in 2018 despite his troubled stay at Florida, where he had a series of off-field issues ranging from a suspension for using stolen credit cards to a sexual assault allegation for which he was cleared.
Before being drafted, he had a diluted urine sample at the NFL combine, and then Callaway got off to a rough start with the Browns last year when he was cited for marijuana possession following a traffic stop in August.
The speedy Callaway played in all 16 games as a rookie, starting 11. He finished with 43 catches for 586 yards and five touchdowns. He also returned five punts.
The Browns believed Callaway had turned the corner and matured before the suspension, which will test the club’s depth.