FOXBORO – Neither the New England Patriots nor the Oakland Raiders were aware of rape allegations involving Antonio Brown until a civil sexual-assault lawsuit was filed by Britney Taylor, ESPN reported.
Representatives for Brown and Taylor have had discussions over the past few months but agreed to keep those discussions confidential before the suit was filed, sources told ESPN.
The confidentiality agreement could provide an explanation for Brown not notifying the Raiders nor the Patriots before he signed with New England on Monday.
The NFL plans to meet next week with Taylor. Taylor, Brown’s former trainer, filed the lawsuit with the Southern District of Florida, accusing the wide receiver of sexually assaulting her on three occasions.
Brown has said the accusations are false, and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, also defended his client Wednesday on ESPN.
“I wouldn’t be doing this interview if I didn’t believe Antonio Brown,” Rosenhaus said.
The league could decide to put Brown on the commissioner’s exempt list, meaning he still would get paid and receive benefits while no longer on New England’s active list, though he would be ineligible to participate in games or practices. Players on the commissioner’s exempt list may go to the team facility but only for individual workouts, medical treatment and any other non-football activities with the team’s approval.
However, that decision might not be made this week.
In matters involving a civil case, a source told ESPN, a player is not obligated to inform a team about his situation before signing a free agent contract. If it’s a criminal case, the matter must be reported to the team.
Brown is expected to meet with the NFL at a time still to be determined.
The Patriots (1-0) visit the Miami Dolphins (0-1) on Sunday.
–Field Level Media