Browns giving rookie Antonio Callaway a second chance after police stop turned up marijuana and suspended license

Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR.


The Browns are chalking up the Antonio Callaway incident to “a rookie mistake.”

Callaway apparently will not be disciplined by the team for a police search of his vehicle at 3 in the morning on Sunday that resulted in citations for a small amount of marijuana and driving with a suspended license.

Prior to the team’s preseason debut against the New York Giants on Thursday night, General Manager John Dorsey said he and coach Hue Jackson sternly lectured Callaway that the organization will have “low tolerance” for any future incidents.

But Dorsey fell short of saying “zero tolerance,” which means one more incident and he’s out.

“Low tolerance is fine with me,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey said that he and Jackson believed Callaway’s story that Callaway’s car was just transported from Florida and the marijuana was not his.

Dorsey said Callaway did not use marijuana prior to the stop of his vehicle because of failing to yield by Strongsville police.

Dorsey and Jackson were more angered, apparently, that Callaway never informed the Browns of the incident. They learned of it from a reporter three days after it happened.

“I don’t think he fully grasps the full communication component of it, as far as the trust factor,” Dorsey said. “Being proactive and [having] communication, that message was delivered very loudly Tuesday evening.”

Asked why that message wasn’t delivered previously, Dorsey insisted it was.

“This isn’t going to happen overnight. But it won’t be from lack of hard work. He’s got to work at it too,” Dorsey said.

Callaway had several incidents at Florida, including involvement in a credit card fraud scandal that resulted in a season-long suspension, and a marijuana possession. He also had a diluted test at the NFL Combine, which put him in the NFL Substances of Abuse Program.

Dorsey does not believe the incident on Sunday will result in a league suspension.

“Let’s let all the evidences come to fruition and see what happens. I’m pretty optimistic … we’ll see what happens,” Dorsey said.

The problem past made Callaway fall to the fourth round in the draft. Dorsey said he would have been a high second, “if not a first” round pick without his baggage.

“We all knew internally it’s going to be a little work in progress here in terms of these type of things,” Dorsey said. “It’s not going to happen overnight. We try daily for him to understand what it takes to be a professional football player, what those roles and responsibilities are. I think the message was very stern and very clear. Moving forward these type of incidents can’t occur again.”

Dorsey said Callaway did a good job of explaining the incident to the team and in a long meeting with Dorsey and Jackson on Tuesday night after practice.

“His explanation, we believe his explanation. Hue and I both trust it. But he’s got to understand these type of incidents can not occur,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey said he would not disclose Callaway’s explanation for being out at 3 in the morning.

“I don’t want to get into the details,” Dorsey said. “He did tell Hue what the explanation was. I accept that. The explanation was a valid one. But he shouldn’t be out at 3. Your mother told you nothing ever good happens after midnight.”

Dorsey said that if the Browns had known of the Callaway incident it would “not necessarily” have affected the team’s desire to trade Corey Coleman Sunday night to the Buffalo Bills for a 2020 seventh-round pick.

“Because I base a lot of things off of talent on the field, and I think we have a nice group of receivers who are beginning to develop,” he said. “With Corey’s situation, I think it gives him a fresh start in Buffalo. As we speak, I think there’s some talent that can develop faster than Corey’s playing.

“I think we’ve had a long enough time to evaluate his skill sets. In combination with the coaching staff and the personnel staff we think a fresh start would probably be best for him.”

Still, the team is a bit short-handed at receiver and Dorsey maintained he has no timetable when Josh Gordon will return to the team. He said he will work out receivers next week – a mix of veterans and young players – and that it was pre-planned for after the first preseason game.

Dorsey admitted the Browns still have interest in ex-Cowboy Dez Bryant and would like to have him at the workout, but Bryant hasn’t returned his phone calls.

“If he returns a phone call, [Bryant] may be [there]. But he don’t return any phone calls … Maybe he’s still thinking that other stuff.

“I’d be open to anything if it’s proper.”