One of the most common punishments in the NFL is the suspension, in which a player who misbehaves or runs afoul of the law isn’t allowed to play in his team’s game. But since we’re in preseason right now—an awful time on the NFL calendar when every player’s goal is simply to avoid a season-ending injury—punishments get perverted so that making a player risk one of those injuries is infinitely more menacing than allowing him to avoid that game.
So when rookie wideout Antonio Callaway got cited for marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license after a traffic stop a few days before the Browns’ first preseason game, the Cleveland Browns decided that playing extra minutes of Browns preseason football would be the appropriate consequence. Callaway started the game and played through into the second half, catching a touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter from back-up QB Baker Mayfield.
“Either you sit him or make him play,” head coach Hue Jackson said at training camp. “I thought it was better to make him play, make him play as long as he could. There were a couple times he kept waving to come out. We said, ‘No, stay in there.’
“That was the plan. It was (discipline). I was trying to make him play the whole game if we could. I didn’t want him to come out. That was part of the consequence of what he’d been through, and he knows it. That’s what it was.”
Hue Jackson already gets it: There’s no worse punishment than playing for the Browns.