The news Wednesday did not get any better for Antonio Callaway, the Cleveland Browns rookie wide receiver who may have blown a chance at a starting job by receiving a citation early Sunday morning for marijuana possession. That interaction with police only became public knowledge Tuesday — which is when Coach Hue Jackson said he learned of it — and the following day saw the release of dash cam video in which an officer says he found a gun part and ammunition in Callaway’s car.
When asked in the video, which was first posted Wednesday by TMZ Sports, why he had the backstrap to a Glock in the car, Callaway replied that he has such a gun, “but it’s in Florida.” A native of Miami, Callaway played at the University of Florida before the Browns made him a fourth-round selection in April’s NFL draft.
Callaway, who also was cited for driving with a suspended license, told officers that his car had just been shipped north from Florida, and he denied having smoked any marijuana. Officers said in a police report (via cleveland.com) they smelled the substance when they pulled the 21-year-old over for a traffic violation just before 3 a.m. Sunday in Strongsville, Ohio, and after he agreed to let them search his car, they found a small amount of marijuana under a seat.
“I got real nervous when I opened [the car] up and first thing right down by where the seats sit is the backstrap of a Glock, and then he’s got a bunch of spare single rounds sitting in the center console,” an unidentified officer said to a colleague at the scene in the video. “So I got real nervous when he’s standing back there and there’s no gun, but there’s gun stuff everywhere.”
One officer in the video told the other that Callaway claimed “his little brother who smokes dope was using the car.” The other officer said that was “plausible,” adding, “He was legitimately not smoking it. It was all under his seat, so if his brother was smoking it, or whatever, it could still be around for a while.”
Callaway has already been enrolled in the NFL’s substance-abuse program after failing a drug test at February’s draft combine, a gaffe that caused a player thought by some to have first-round talent to tumble down draft boards. While at Florida, Callaway was accused of sexual assault and claimed as part of his defense that he was “so stoned, [he was not] interested in having sex with anyone,” and he was later charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession, eventually pleading to possession of drug paraphernalia.
Callaway also sat out the Gators’ 2017 season altogether for his role in a credit card scam that resulted in suspensions for eight other Florida players. On Tuesday, Jackson said “the red flag is up,” as a result of the recent citations, and that he and the rookie “will have a very strong conversation about it.”
“I’m just now finding out about it,” Jackson said at the time, adding, “I want to know more about it. Obviously, I’m disappointed in it, but I need to understand exactly what happened.”
The timing of the incident, and the fact that Browns management apparently did not learn of it until Tuesday, is significant because the team traded wide receiver Corey Coleman to the Bills on Sunday, several hours after Callaway had been pulled over. That opened a starting spot for Callaway, at least until Josh Gordon returns to the team, but the former could be subject to discipline from the team and/or the NFL.
Strongsville police are reportedly not seeking additional charges for the gun part or bullets found in the car. An attorney for Callaway told News 5 Cleveland that his client was unaware that there was marijuana in the vehicle and that Callaway was sober when he was pulled over for failing to yield to oncoming traffic when he drove away from a gas station.
At one point in the video, the arresting officer told his colleague that Callaway is a “good” football player, adding that he’s “fast as [crap].” He apologized to Callaway, saying, “Sorry, we just kind of stumbled into this. We’re really just trying to find drunk drivers and stuff.”
Callaway was initially scheduled for a hearing on his charges Thursday morning, but the court date was rescheduled for Aug. 23. That allowed the player to accompany his team to New Jersey, where the Browns will square off with the Giants in a preseason game Thursday evening.
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