The explosive news that Antonio Brown was accused in a lawsuit of sexual assault brought about many questions, including what happens next for Brown’s NFL career.
The NFL and New England Patriots have to review the available evidence quickly and make a decision. Brown, cut by the Oakland Raiders last Saturday and signed later that day by the Patriots, is slated to make his New England debut in Miami on Sunday. News of the lawsuit broke Tuesday night. Brown, through his lawyers, immediately denied all the allegations. He has not been charged with a crime.
One possibility is the commissioner’s exempt list, which has been used before when players have legal situations pending.
Antonio Brown named in sexual assault lawsuit
Multiple reports, including the Washington Post and ESPN, said the NFL will consider using the commissioner’s exempt list while it investigates. If Brown is placed on the commissioner’s exempt list he couldn’t play or practice, but he would be paid.
It’s unclear if the NFL would put him on paid leave, or if it would do it this week, considering Brown hasn’t been charged with a crime.
Then there’s the Patriots’ part of the story. The team put out a carefully worded statement on the matter.
Patriots statement on Antonio Brown allegations: pic.twitter.com/jIp2pisvZD
— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) September 11, 2019
ESPN’s Adam Schefter said the Patriots did not know about the lawsuit when they signed Brown. At his news conference, Belichick said Brown would practice Wednesday via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.
Belichick “both Antonio and has representatives have made statements... we’ve looked into the situation, we’re taking it very seriously. .... I’m not going to be expanding on the statements that were already.” Confirms Brown will practice today, but “one day at a time” for Sunday pic.twitter.com/CFlMpe8ULh
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) September 11, 2019
Albert Breer of The MMQB reported that there is language in Brown’s contract that allows the Patriots to void his guaranteed money. Brown got a $9 million signing bonus from New England.
In the guarantee language in Antonio Brown's Patriots contract: If Brown "takes any action that materially undermines the public's respect for, or is materially critical of, the Club, the Player's teammates or the Club's ownership, coaches," etc., guarantees will "null and void." pic.twitter.com/BFdUfcuaXD
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 11, 2019
What will NFL, Patriots do?
Because Brown became the most talked about player in the NFL through all his controversies with the Raiders, the NFL can’t ignore the lawsuit against him, which contains detailed accusations that Brown raped his trainer in May of 2018.
Brown denied every claim in the lawsuit and the statement from his lawyers said he will “pursue all legal remedies” against what they called false accusations. Schefter reported Wednesday morning that Brown’s accuser Britney Taylor will meet with the NFL next week, which is the soonest she can meet with the league. (Taylor has opted to go public, which is why Yahoo Sports is using her name.)
This isn’t a situation that can be entirely figured out before the weekend. But the NFL is on the spot as it deals with another legal situation with one of its star players.
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