Antonio Brown Released by Patriots Amid NFL Probe into Alleged Sexual Assaults

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2019

New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown (17) runs the ball, during the first half at an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Antonio Brown has been released for the second time this season.

The New England Patriots let go of the seven-time Pro Bowl receiver Friday following allegations of rape and sexual assault. Brown broke the news on Twitter:

AB @AB84

Thank you for the opportunity @Patriots #GoWinIt

AB @AB84

Thanks for the opportunity appreciate @Patriots https://t.co/envfHEd6N8

The Patriots issued an official statement about the move: “The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown. We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time.”

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy later issued a statement regarding Brown's standing with the league: 

Brian McCarthy @NFLprguy

In response to questions re: Antonio Brown’s status: https://t.co/dxjdYptzso

Britney Taylor—Brown's former trainer—filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida on Sept. 11 that said Brown sexually assaulted her in three separate instances, according to Ben Shpigel of the New York Times.

Taylor said that Brown raped her in 2018, which allegedly followed two previous sexual assaults in 2017.

The lawsuit also published a pair of emails from Brown to Taylor (warning: offensive language):

Nick Underhill @nick_underhill

These are the emails Antonio Brown allegedly sent to his accuser in the rape court. https://t.co/hGHEbiY8F6

Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated then reported Monday that there was a second accusation of sexual misconduct from another woman, who said Brown approached her naked, with a towel covering his genitals, after hiring her to paint a mural of him.

Brown has denied the allegations against him.

On Thursday, Klemko reported Brown sent a series of text messages to the source from his original story in which the veteran wideout gave instructions to his associates to investigate the woman (warning: offensive language):

Robert Klemko @RobertKlemko

New tonight: Antonio Brown sent our source from Monday’s story menacing group text messages, including a picture of her children with instructions for his associates to investigate her. Her lawyer wrote the NFL calling for the intimidation to stop. https://t.co/rCTM8WSI6Z https://t.co/QtONzBf7Ig

Klemko added a lawyer for the woman Brown hired to paint the mural sent a letter to the NFL Thursday evening to end the conduct by Brown that is “intimidating and threatening to our client, in violation of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.”

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

The lawyer for the second accuser of former #Patriots WR Antonio Brown released a statement saying his release meant the league took her claims seriously. https://t.co/3cJvib9dNI

The 31-year-old officially signed with the Patriots after the team's Week 1 game following his surprise release from the Oakland Raiders.

He stirred up significant controversy during his brief time in Oakland, missing practice time because of a helmet grievance and a foot injury. After receiving a fine from the team, Brown confronted general manager Mike Mayock in a "screaming match" in front of teammates, per Rapoport.

The Raiders fined him and voided his guarantees, eventually leading to his release less than sixth months after being traded by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

New England was there to scoop him up, signing Brown to an incentive-laden contract that could make him up to $15 million in 2019, plus a $20 million option for 2020.

According to Rapoport, a source said owner Robert Kraft wouldn't have signed off on the deal had he known about the assault allegations. However, Brown still suited up with the team and totaled 61 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in one game. 

Despite Brown's impact on the field, the Patriots have joined the Raiders and Steelers in deciding his talent is not worth the off-field negatives.

Brown could still draw interest in the open market after being named first-team All-Pro four times and leading the NFL in touchdowns last year, but the number of potential suitors has likely dwindled over the past few weeks.