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Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — A Florida judge freed NFL free agent Antonio Brown from house arrest Tuesday, allowing him to travel freely as he awaits trial on charges that he attacked the driver of a moving truck.

Circuit Judge Michael Usan agreed to let the former Central Michigan standout travel freely within the United States so he can fulfill contractual obligations with ESPN and comedian Kevin Hart, according to news reports. Instead of wearing an ankle GPS monitor, Brown, 31, will have to check in with court personnel daily.

His $110,000 bail remains in place and he still must surrender his passport, possess no weapons or ammunition and submit to a mental health evaluation and random drug testing.

Brown was one of the NFL’s top wide receivers during his nine seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was traded to the Oakland Raiders last year but released before ever playing a regular season game following several off-the-field incidents. He was then signed by the New England Patriots, who released Brown in September after a second woman in 10 days accused him of sexual misconduct.

He was charged last week by Hollywood, Florida, police with burglary with battery, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and criminal mischief. Officials responded Jan. 21 to a disturbance call where the moving truck driver said Brown and his trainer, Glenn Holt, hit him outside Brown’s Hollywood home.

Holt was arrested and charged with one count of burglary with battery, but officials couldn’t make contact with Brown at the time.

According to a police arrest report, the altercation began as an argument over Brown’s refusal to pay $4,000 to the driver to release his household goods. The driver called police and reported vandalism after he said Brown threw a rock as he drove away, causing a small dent and chipping the paint, an officer wrote.

The driver later returned when the manager of his company told him that Brown would now pay the $4,000, and an additional $860 for the damage and the driver’s time. Brown then paid the $4,000, but refused to pay the rest, so the driver returned to the van to call his company, and that’s when Brown “started another verbal argument,” police said.

They said Brown climbed into the truck and tried to pull out the driver while Holt grabbed the keys from the ignition.

Police say the driver suffered injuries including scratches on his neck, shoulder and arm, a cut on his finger and a scrape on his stomach.

Holt then used the keys to open the truck, while Brown “and other unidentified friends” began removing boxes. The boxes, however, belonged to another client, police said. When the driver told them so, Brown and the others “started tossing the items back into the truck causing damage to some of the property,” an officer wrote.

Hollywood police were called again, and when officers arrived, Brown “retreated inside of his residence and shut the door.”

Heavy price for injuries

NFL teams paid more than a half-billion dollars to Week 1 starters who missed games because of injuries this season and players who ended the year on injured reserve, according to an Associated Press study. 

And the players sidelined the most in a league devoted more and more to speed: the fastest guys on the field, wide receivers.

While much of the recent focus has been on protecting high-priced quarterbacks and limiting head injuries — concussions were up slightly over last year — keeping wideouts and those who try to stop them has occupied most of the NFL’s medical personnel. Cornerbacks and safeties were second and third on the list.

Seventy-four receivers were sidelined in 2019, costing teams a position-high $72 million, according to the AP’s analysis of players on injured reserve at the end of the 2019 regular season along with time missed by opening-game starters. The estimated $521 million spent on players checked by the AP doesn’t include players who became starters after Week 1 and later missed games with injuries. 

Extra points

The Texans have added general manager to Bill O’Brien’s title, a role the coach has been filling since the firing of Brian Gaine in June.

... The Broncos hired veteran assistant Mike Shula as quarterbacks coach.

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