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Saturday, September 21, 2019

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NFL warns that Antonio Brown could be placed on Commissioner’s exempt list if signed

Antonio Brown

The NFL on Friday issued a statement regarding Antonio Brown following the wide receiver’s release by the New England Patriots.

The league said in its statement that they are “vigorously and expeditiously” investigating multiple allegations against Brown.

The important part of the statement is the point that Brown could be placed on the Commissioner’s exempt list if signed, which would allow him to be paid by a new team but prevent him from playing. The league also said that Brown could face discipline from the league if they find he violated the law or Personal Conduct Policy.

The statement seems to be a warning to teams thinking of signing Brown.

It’s hard to imagine a team signing Brown under these conditions and with so many outstanding legal matters. The league could consider Brown’s text messages to a woman who accused him of sexual misconduct as harassing and intimidating, which would be grounds for discipline under the Personal Conduct Policy.

Though the likelihood of Brown playing this season seems slim, a 2020 return could be possible once the league completes its investigation and rules on Brown.

Antonio Brown released by Patriots

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown’s New England Patriots tenure is finished.

The wide receiver was released by the team Friday as allegations of improper conduct surrounding a sexual assault charge continued to grow.

“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 thanked the Patriots via social media for the opportunity to play for them.

Brown ultimately played in one game for New England, catching four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. He landed there after a troubled preseason in Oakland, where he quickly fell out with management. Shortly after joining the Patriots on a one-year deal worth up to $15 million, a former trainer filed a lawsuit against Brown alleging three instances of sexual assault. Whether the Patriots knew of the pending suit when signing him remains the subject of some speculation.

The last straw for New England may have been a series of messages harassing a second accuser, which the league confirmed Friday were sent by Brown. The messages, combined with mounting allegations of sexual assault, made Brown’s position with the Patriots untenable. It’s highly unlikely that anyone else picks the 31-year-old up now.

Tom Brady denies criticizing officials in Jags-Titans game

Tom Brady

Tom Brady wants to make it clear that he’s not blaming the referees for the numerous penalties called during Thursday night’s game between the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Brady sent a pair of critical tweets during Thursday’s game, which was marred by constant flags, some of which were definitely questionable. On Friday, Brady sought to clarify them, stating that he wasn’t blaming the referees for their performance.

Essentially, Brady is blaming the NFL for having officials call things more tightly. And he has a point: per NFL.com’s Judy Battista, offensive holding penalties are way up in 2019 compared to where they were the year before.

We saw this coming during the preseason, and perhaps we should’ve worried then. Many fans would agree with Brady, though. Parts of Thursday night’s game were very difficult to watch because of all those flags.

Bill Belichick admits ‘there are some things we’re looking into’ with Antonio Brown

Bill Belichick

The allegations are piling up against Antonio Brown, and even New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is finding that it is difficult to completely ignore them.

On Friday, Belichick began his press conference by acknowledging that there are off-field issues going on with Brown that the Patriots are taking seriously. As expected, however, he said he would not have any further comment on the situation.

When reporters refused to ask questions about any topic or player other than Brown, Belichick ended the press conference.

Belichick does not often get bothered by media questions, and him saying they were looking into things sounded ominous for Brown.

The Patriots knew of the potential headaches they might have to deal with by signing Brown, but things have really only gotten worse for him since they brought him in. They were supposedly completely blindsided by the sexual assault lawsuit that was filed against Brown last week, and another woman has accused him of sexual misconduct since.

The latest issue involving Brown centers around some text messages that were shared with the public early Friday morning. They allegedly show that Brown was harassing and trying to intimidate the woman who made the most recent sexual misconduct allegation by attacking her credibility in a group text with his associates. The NFL is looking into all of the allegations, and there’s still a very real possibility that Brown could be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list.

Report: NFL investigating Antonio Brown’s harassing text messages to second accuser

Antonio Brown

The NFL is investigating harassing text messages allegedly sent by Antonio Brown to the second woman who accused the wide receiver of sexual misconduct.

On Monday, Sports Illustrated published a lengthy story containing many allegations of improper behavior by Brown, including incidents for which he has been sued. The story notably contained allegations from a female artist who says she was hired by Brown to paint a mural in his home. Brown met the woman when he won an auction bidding on a painting of hers at a charity softball game for the National Youth Foundation in June 2017. The receiver later hired her to paint a mural in his home.

The woman claims Brown became inappropriate during her second day of painting at his home when he approached her while nude, with nothing but a small towel covering his genitals. She says after she did not respond to his flirtations, the attitude of Brown and his team towards her changed and became chilly. She never finished the painting and was not contacted by Brown again.

In a statement from his attorney shared on Monday, Brown denied the woman’s allegations.

But the story does not end there.

SI’s Robert Klemko, who wrote the original story on Brown, shared screenshots of text messages the woman allegedly received from Brown on Wednesday night, two days after her allegations were published. In his text messages, which were sent to a group of five people, Brown accused the woman of making stuff up for money and directed his people to investigate her.

Klemko says the text messages came from the same number Brown provided to the artist in a 2017 Instagram direct message. Brown included his lawyer on the text messages. Brown’s attorney told Klemko he did not advise Brown to communicate with the woman and otherwise declined comment.

The artist’s lawyer, Lisa J. Banks, contacted the NFL about the harassing messages and asked for the league and New England Patriots to step in and end Brown’s behavior.

The attorney called the messages “intimidating and threatening to our client, in violation of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.”

“Our client … is understandably frightened by these text messages, which are clearly intended to threaten and intimidate her,” the lawyer wrote. “While she certainly qualifies as a ‘starving artist,’ she has never approached Mr. Brown, nor will she, about seeking money to compensate her for his sexual misconduct, contrary to his allegations in the text messages.”

The NFL quickly responded to the lawyer’s letter and set up a phone call between investigators and the artist’s attorney.

SI reached out to the phone number that they believe belonged to Brown, asking about the allegations. “foh clown” was the response they received. “FOH” is an acronym for “get the f— out of here.”

Brown, who made his Patriots debut on Sunday, was first sued by his former trainer, Britney Taylor, who accused him of sexually assaulting her three times between 2017 and 2018. Brown denied the allegations and accused her of making a money grab.

The NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy prohibits: “Stalking, harassment, or similar forms of intimidation.”

The league could view these messages as harassment/intimidation and move to discipline the wide receiver for a violation of the policy, which would jeopardize his playing status.

Antonio Brown speaks to media for first time since signing with Patriots

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown has seemingly been under a gag order since the New England Patriots signed him, but that order was lifted on Thursday.

Sort of.

Brown spoke with reporters for the first time since arriving in New England. As expected, he said very little about the sexual assault lawsuit against him and his status with the NFL. The star receiver said he is grateful to be playing under Bill Belichick and alongside Tom Brady, but he avoided questions about his ongoing legal issues.

“I appreciate that question, I am here to just focus on ball and look forward to getting out there in the home stadium and be home with the team,” Brown said when asked about his playing status.

Brown, of course, has been sued by his former trainer Britney Taylor, who says Brown sexually assaulted her on three different occasions. Some new allegations against him also came to light this week in a lengthy Sports Illustrated feature, when a woman who chose to remain anonymous accused Brown of sexual misconduct while she was working for him painting a mural at one of his homes.

Taylor met with the NFL for 10 hours on Monday, and Brown is expected to meet with league officials at some point in the near future. There remains a possibility that he could be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, but he appears to be clear to play in Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.

Another person considering criminal charges against Antonio Brown?

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown has dealt with numerous legal issues over the past few years, and there could be more that have yet to come to light.

Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated published a featured this week in which he spoke with two dozen people about the troubling aspects of Brown’s personal and professional life. The story included everything from new sexual misconduct allegations to service fees Brown supposedly never paid, and Klemko says even more people have come forward since. One of them is considering filing criminal charges against Brown.

The sexual assault allegations against Brown are obviously the most noteworthy of his legal issues, but he has also been accused by multiple people of skipping out on bills and not fulfilling his end of business agreements. If someone is considering filing charges unrelated to sexual misconduct or unpaid debt, that would likely be an allegation we have not yet heard about.

Brown has been accused in a civil lawsuit of sexually assaulting his former trainer, Britney Taylor, on multiple occasions. He will not face criminal charges over at least some of those allegations due to the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania. Another woman who chose to remain anonymous also told Klemko she was a victim of sexual misconduct when working at Brown’s house.

The Patriots knew they were taking a risk when signing Brown to a one-year deal, though they supposedly did not know about Taylor’s lawsuit. However, they were obviously aware of all the baggage that comes along with the star receiver. That is not going away anytime soon.