RENTON, Wash. — Russell Wilson says he believes Antonio Brown deserves another chance to play in the NFL.
The Seattle Seahawks quarterback is hoping it’s with his team.
“I think Antonio definitely has taken those steps (in the right direction), and like I said, nobody’s perfect,” Wilson said Thursday. “From the conversations I’ve had with him, he’s really been remorseful and he’s been humbled along the way. Like I said, I pray that he can continue to grow, just like anybody.”
Wilson has lobbied for the Seahawks to sign the suspended wide receiver, both in public and directly to the organization. That led to a handful of Brown-related questions when Wilson met with reporters a day after ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Seahawks are positioned to make a push to sign Brown with his suspension eligible to end after Week 8.
Wilson said he has gotten to know Brown over the past four or five years. The two worked out together this summer at Wilson’s San Diego-area home. Brown also is close with Wilson’s backup, Geno Smith.
“I think the reality about Antonio is he is one of the best players to play this game obviously,” Wilson said. “I think that he has always been a special player in terms of (on) the field. The reality with Antonio is, he’s had some tough moments in his life, especially as of late. I think he’s gone through a lot of things he wishes he could take back and do, and just not say, whatever it might be. But I think he is a special player, for sure. I don’t know what’s going to happen with him or not. I don’t know how serious it is us getting him or not. But I do know that obviously he can play some football. I think that’s the thing. I’ve developed a personal relationship with him, and not everybody is perfect. And I think that’s the reality, none of us are. So hopefully he gets to play football again.”
Brown, 32, is serving an eight-game suspension that was announced in July and stems from multiple violations of the league’s personal conduct policy.
He had been the subject of an NFL investigation after an accusation of sexual misconduct at his home by an artist who was working there in 2017. He also pleaded no contest in June to a felony burglary with battery charge and two lesser misdemeanor charges related to a January incident with a moving truck company outside his home in Hollywood, Florida.
The NFL also continues to investigate a lawsuit filed by Brown’s former athletic trainer, alleging that she was sexually assaulted by him. A source told ESPN that the Seahawks are still gathering information about that situation and the potential for further NFL discipline.
Wilson was asked if there was a limit to what he’ll accept from a potential teammate in terms of past transgressions, or if he was concerned only about winning.
“You guys know me better than that,” he said. “I think you know me better than that. I think that he’s obviously made some mistakes along the way. There’s been a process for that and he’s had to deal with it and go through it. I pray for anybody, honestly, that goes through anything. That’s just me, that’s my nature personally. I never wish anything bad on anybody.”
Wilson said he doesn’t know all the specifics of the allegations against Brown.
Asked about Brown falling out of favor in his previous stops — he was traded by the Pittsburgh Steelers last March then released by both the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots in September — Wilson said he has tried to learn about Brown by talking to his former teammates. Most of them vouched for the receiver’s work ethic and preparation, Wilson said.
“I think with Coach (Pete) Carroll, I think with the teammates that we have, the men that we have and the growth, I think if he does play football, I think this is a great place if he does play again,” Wilson said. “I think this is a place where he’ll grow a lot as a man too, as well. And I think that we’re going to continue to try to help anybody who walks in this locker room as you guys know. … That’s just part of our culture is trying to help people. …
“So I think it’s not just about the games, it’s not just about winning and stuff like that. It’s also developing and talking and growing as men and just learning from our previous experiences and everything else, too. … If he does come here, hopefully he could be a great teammate with us and for us and be along the way. If not, then we’ve got a lot of great players and we’ve got some guys that can really make some great plays too as well. We’ve been doing that all year.”
Wilson is leading the MVP race with 19 touchdown passes through five games. The Seahawks (5-0) have the NFL’s highest-scoring offense and an already strong cast of players that includes DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both producing like No. 1 wide receivers.
Asked about the Seahawks pursuing Brown even though they’re not lacking offensive firepower, Wilson likened it to the Kansas City Chiefs adding Le’Veon Bell to their backfield.
“I think we’ve been great all year,” he said. “I think you’re always trying to look to see, how can we get better, how can we get better in every way?”