New England Patriots dump Brown amid NFL rape probe
New York (AFP) –
The New England Patriots released Antonio Brown after just 11 days on Friday amid an ongoing NFL investigation into allegations of rape and sexual assault.
Brown, who has denied the claims of rape made in a civil lawsuit in Florida, was shown the door by the Patriots after further revelations emerged in a Sports Illustrated story earlier this week.
The 31-year-old wide receiver played just one game for the Patriots before being cut, catching four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown in a 43-0 rout of the Miami Dolphins.
"The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown," the team said in a statement. "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."
Brown was jettisoned by the Patriots just hours after the Super Bowl champions' coach Bill Belichick cut short a press conference after being peppered with questions about the receiver.
Three days after Brown joined the Patriots, his former trainer, Britney Taylor, filed a civil lawsuit in US District Court in Miami accusing Brown of two incidents of sexual assault in June 2017 and rape during a May 2018 incident in Brown's Miami home.
Brown has maintained any sexual contact with Taylor was consensual and describing the legal action as an extortion attempt.
Brown also faced a new accusation on Friday according to a Sports Illustrated report after a woman who accused him of an unwanted sexual advance in 2017 received what she called intimidating text messages from Brown on Wednesday night, after the magazine published a story detailing her allegations.
Regardless of the outcome of Taylor's lawsuit, the NFL can take disciplinary action against Brown, and it was clear earlier Friday the Patriots had little intention of dealing with any distraction his off-field troubles might cause.
Belichick had tried to head off questions, saying there were "some things that we're looking into" but vowing to have no comment.
After several questions about Brown, including for his status for Sunday's game against the New York Jets, Belichick walked out.
The Sports Illustrated report said Brown hired a woman artist to paint a mural of him in his home. A phone number he had given her matched the number that sent her text messages on Wednesday in a chain with four other numbers.
The message included photos of her and her children with a person she believes Brown is encouraging to investigate her.
An attorney for the woman sent the NFL a letter on Thursday detailing her allegations with screen shots of the text messages. She has said she wants no money from Brown in connection with the alleged incident.
The texter in the message described the woman as a "super broke girl" and in another message with her children wrote: "Those her kids... she's awfully broke clearly."
- Tumultuous pre-season -
Brown's whirlwind stint with the Patriots followed a tumultuous pre-season with the Oakland Raiders, who cut the receiver on September 7.
The seven-time Pro Bowler arrived in Oakland in an off-season trade after an acrimonious end to his tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he feuded with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and was benched for the final game of the last season.
Tension between Brown and the Raiders began almost immediately. He missed two weeks of training camp with frostbite on his feet, which he blamed on a cryotherapy mishap.
Brown also feuded with the NFL over safety regulations forcing players to switch to a new type of helmet and finally clashed with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock over the team's decision to fine him.
On Thursday, apparel giant Nike dropped him, following in the wake of helmet manufacturer Xenith, who had axed him days after Taylor filed her lawsuit.
Brown, who used a savvy social media campaign to hasten his release by the Raiders, was relatively low key in his response to being released by the Pats.
"Thank you for the opportunity @Patriots #GoWinIt" he tweeted.
Agent Drew Rosenhaus, meanwhile said Brown was determined to find another team.
"Antonio is healthy and is looking forward to his next opportunity in the NFL," Rosenhaus said. "He wants to play the game he loves and he hopes to play for another team soon."
© 2019 AFP