The Atlanta Falcons have cut Torrey Green, a rookie linebacker reportedly under investigation for three different allegations of sexual assault. At least two of the alleged assaults occurred in 2015, when Green was playing at Utah State. The Falcons signed Green as an undrafted free agent in April 2016.
Understand that, as a UFA, Green was never expected to make a splash — or even the 53-man roster. The only memory we’ll have of him as a Falcon is seeing the headline “Atlanta Falcons rookie subject of two rape investigations” on TMZ. Generally speaking, if you’re involved in sports and you’re mentioned on that particular site, it’s not good for anyone’s “brand,” yours or your employer’s.
It’s entirely possible that the Falcons didn’t know about the allegations — it would have been unthinkable for them to sign him if they had — but here’s a case where ignorance is a flimsy defense. Why didn’t they know? Where was that famous “Falcons Filter”? Is due diligence done only with prospective draftees? Was there no one they could have called in Logan, Utah (population 48,174) who might have heard a whisper?
Esteemed former colleague Mark Schlabach reports that “Logan police Police captain Curtis Hooley told ESPN on Thursday that Green wasn’t charged in any of the alleged incidents. Hooley said Cache County district attorney James Swink also declined to prosecute the cases.” (TMZ reported that a prosecutor in the DA’s office “told us all the cases are being reviewed for possible charges — so far, a decision has not been made.”
In sum, there’s a chance nothing will come of these allegations. To their credit, the Falcons weren’t willing to take that chance. They cut Green before practice Thursday. And maybe if this were a different organization, we’d think no more of it.
But the Falcons are the crew that had to apologize twice for its behavior at the NFL combine, the team that cut Prince Shembo — whom they drafted after he’d been linked with a publicized sexual battery case while at Notre Dame — after he was charged with animal cruelty in Gwinnett County. They are, as we can never forget, the franchise that banked everything on Michael Vick, who went in prison, and saw Eugene Robinson, the newly minted NFL man of the year, arrested for solicitation on the eve of this club’s one and only Super Bowl.
For an organization that professes to Do Things The Right Way, the Falcons get an awful lot wrong. Granted, the Robinson arrest came under different ownership and the Vick imprisonment under different management. This current regime might just have been unlucky with Green and (twice) at the combine. But that’s a boatload of bad luck in a year barely eight months old.