FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — In front of a packed media room filled with reporters and TV cameras Wednesday, Bill Belichick said the team is aware of the lawsuit filed against newly acquired Antonio Brown but wouldn’t answer questions about the case.
“We’ve looked into the situation, we’re taking it very seriously, all the way through the organization,” he said. “I’m sure there are questions but I’m not going to be entering into the discussion today.”
After repeated questions from reporters to expand on his comment, Belichick said “I’m not going to be expanding on the statement that I’ve already given” and “when we know more we’ll say more.”
Belichick said he expected Brown to practice for the first time Wednesday and, just after 1 p.m. Brown was spotted at the start of the team’s workout. As for whether he may play Sunday in Miami against the Dolphins, the coach said “we’re taking it one day at a time, just like we always do.”
After continued questions about Brown, Belichick wrapped up his press availability and walked off the podium.
“Anything else on Miami? Any other questions?” he said, before exiting.
Minutes later, Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said the lawsuit didn’t catch him by surprise. Speaking on ESPN he said he and Antonio Brown “had been unfortunately anticipating this situation” and then added “I wouldn’t be doing this interview if I didn’t believe Antonio. These allegations are false. He denies every one of them. I am very confident that his legal team has facts that that will prove this.”
Brown’s status will continue to be the talk of New England, and all around the NFL, after news broke Tuesday night that a former college friend and personal trainer accused him of sexual assault on three separate occasions. The lawsuit is a civil case and it appears the accuser, Britney Taylor, did not contact law enforcement after any of the incidents in question. Brown’s attorney has insisted that he had consensual sex with Taylor.
It is unclear if the Patriots knew of the possibility of the filing of the case when they signed him as a free agent last Saturday.
The Washington Post is reporting that the NFL will give serious consideration to placing Antonio Brown on paid leave via its commissioner’s exempt list, according to multiple people familiar with the situation. The All-Pro wide receiver would be ineligible to play for the Patriots if he’s placed on the exempt list by the league.
Placing Brown on the exempt list is “possible” and something that the NFL is “going to have to focus on,” said one of the people close to the situation, according to the Post.
Also it appears the Patriots could enforce a clause in Brown’s contract if he is suspended or embarrasses the team. The clause in his deal states that “if at any time prior to the end of the 2019 league year the player: is suspended by the NFL or Club for Conduct Detrimental; is suspended for violation of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy; 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, management then, upon election of the Club, the guarantees set forth will be null and void.”