FOXBORO – The Antonio Brown era in New England is over.
The Patriots announced on Friday they are cutting the controversial wide receiver, just five days after Brown caught four passes for 56 yards and scored a touchdown in his debut with the team.
“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 it is best to move in a different direction at this time.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick abruptly left his news conference earlier Friday after being asked repeated questions concerning Brown.
“I know there are questions about Antonio,” Belichick said, via NBCSportsBoston.com. “We take all the situations with our team very seriously. There are some things we’re looking into.”
After answering a couple of general questions that stemmed from Brown’s situation, Belichick said he would talk football. After another Brown-related question was asked, Belichick said: “I’m good. Thank you.”
An offseason full of tumult and controversy carried over into the regular season for Brown. On Thursday, Sports Illustrated reported that a female artist who leveled claims earlier this week that Brown made unwanted sexual advances before firing her contacted the NFL claiming the 31-year-old wide receiver sent her “intimidating and threatening” texts.
Britney Taylor, Brown’s former trainer, filed a civil suit last week accusing him of three incidents of sexual assault or rape over a two-year period from 2017-18. According to multiple reports, the league met with Taylor for 10 hours on Monday as it investigates the accusations, and a meeting with Brown was expected at some point.
The Patriots signed Brown earlier this month just hours after the Oakland Raiders released him. It was reportedly a one-year, $15 million deal with a $9 million signing bonus. Prior to his release, Brown spent training camp in and out of Raiders facilities, rehabbing a frostbite-like condition on his feet after a cryotherapy mishap, filing grievances with the NFL over his helmet, arguing with team management (reportedly calling general manager Mike Mayock a cracker), and posting a recorded conversation with Raiders coach Jon Gruden to YouTube.
In 10 NFL seasons (the first nine with Pittsburgh), Brown has caught 841 balls for 11,263 yards and 75 touchdowns. He is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time All-Pro.
The 2-0 Patriots host the 0-2 New York Jets on Sunday.
Late Friday afternoon, Brown took to his social media account to thank New England for the opportunity to play for the franchise.
The marathon continues— AB (@AB84) September 20, 2019
Earlier Friday, the female artist who leveled claims earlier this week that New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown made unwanted sexual advances before firing her contacted the NFL saying that Brown sent her “intimidating and threatening” texts, Sports Illustrated reported.
Already facing a civil lawsuit brought by his former trainer Britney Taylor over sexual assault allegations, Brown was accused by the artist’s attorney of sending text messages to the artist that were “intimidating and threatening to our client, in violation of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.”
The letter from lawyer Lisa J. Banks to the NFL stated that her client was “understandably frightened by these text messages, which are clearly intended to threaten and intimidate her.” Banks also denied that the artist planned to be seeking money “to compensate her for his sexual misconduct, contrary to his allegations in the text messages.”
According to the SI report, the NFL reached out to Banks within an hour of receiving her complaint to coordinate a phone call between league investigators and the artist’s counsel.
Per the SI article earlier this week in a story detailing multiple domestic violence allegations against the seven-time Pro Bowl receiver, Brown met the artist at a 2017 charity softball game and invited her to his house to create another piece of artwork. Per her claim, the unnamed artist, who requested anonymity before speaking about Brown, “was in a kneeling position while painting and turned to find Brown behind her, naked, holding a small hand towel over his genitals.” The artist continued painting, but “after that, it all ended abruptly,” she told SI.
The report indicated the artist received $2,000 from Brown, who didn’t contact her after the incident. The woman did not plan to file charges or receive renumeration, though Brown’s behavior troubled her, SI reported.
Thursday’s report alleged that the artist was included on a group text with three other unidentified phone numbers that seemingly came from the same number she was originally given by Brown two years ago. Among other texts claiming she was a “super broke girl” and prompts to “look up her background history,” the texts reportedly included an accusation that she was lying about her 2017 claim in order to extort money out of Brown, 31.
“This sort of intimidation and harassment is the reason victims are often so reluctant to step forward in these cases,” Banks told SI Thursday. “We have confidence the NFL and the Patriots will step in and end this behavior.”
After Monday’s report was published, Brown’s attorney Darren Heitner wrote on Twitter, “Antonio Brown has reviewed the sexual misconduct allegations made by an unnamed artist included in a recently published Sports Illustrated article and denies that he ever engaged in such activities. There will be no further comment at this time.”
Regarding the Taylor civil suit, the league has interviewed her and continues to investigate, but it is not known whether the league will interview Brown.
Taylor claims Brown sexually assaulted her on three separate occasions, including once in Pittsburgh, where the wide receiver played for the Steelers for nine seasons, and twice in Florida.
ESPN also has reported that Brown, who hired Taylor as a trainer after they attended Central Michigan at the same time, turned down a $2 million settlement before the suit was filed.
–Field Level Media