New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick walked out early on his Friday news conference after repeatedly being asked about controversial receiver Antonio BrownNew England Patriots coach Bill Belichick walked out early on his Friday news conference after repeatedly being asked about controversial receiver Antonio Brown (AFP Photo/Michael Reaves)
New York (AFP) - New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick cut short his news conference Friday, departing after about three minutes when questions persisted regarding receiver Antonio Brown, who faces a rape allegation lawusit.
The move came after Brown took part in his sixth practice with the reigning Super Bowl champions, having been signed after being dropped by the Oakland Raiders.
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 strongly denied the allegations, saying any sexual contact with Taylor was consensual and describing the legal action as an extortion attempt.
Brown also faced a new accusation Friday according to a Sports Illustrated report after a woman who accused Brown 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.
Belichick spoke about the Patriots' upcoming game Sunday against the New York Jets, then talked briefly about Brown before taking questions.
"I know there are questions about Antonio. We take all the situations with our team very seriously," Belichick said.
"There are some things that we're looking into, but I'm not going to have any comment on any of the off-the-field situations or questions on that. Anything on football, I'm happy to answer."
But with concerns about Brown's status in the wake of the latest messages, he was the only topic of interest, the first question asking how the off-field issues impacted the on-field work.
"Well, when we work on football, we work on football," Belichick said.
Asked about Brown's role for the weekend, Belichick replied: "No, I'm not going to get into that. We're going to do what's best for the team, like we always do."
Asked about weighing players performance with off-field behavior in general, Belichick said, "That's a big picture question. We answer it the best we can. There's no set formula."
Pressed about the Sports Illustrated report, Belichick replied, "I think I've already addressed this, so we're going to get ready for the Jets here. I'm happy to answer any football questions. But the rest of it, I'm done with the rest of it."
When Brown was the subject of the next inquiry, Belichick walked out.
- 'Super broke girl' -
The SI report said Brown hired the woman, an 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 in Brown encouraging others in the group to investigate her.
An attorney for the woman sent the NFL a letter 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 2017 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."
Brown sidestepped questions about Taylor on Thursday in his first public comments since the lawsuit was filed and also dodged whether or not he expected any punishment from the NFL, which has launched its own investigation into the matter.
"I appreciate that question," Brown said when asked about his standing with the league. "I'm just here to focus on ball and look forward to getting out there in the home stadium, being with the team."
The league can take action regardless of the outcome of Taylor's lawsuit.