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Antonio Brown released by Patriots amid sexual assault lawsuit  1 Month ago

Source:   USA Today  

The New England Patriots released Antonio Brown on Friday, leaving the embroiled wide receiver’s NFL career in limbo as he faces mounting off-the-field trouble that includes allegations he sexually assaulted two women.

A day after Brown allegedly sent threatening text messages to one of the women, the Patriots cut him — less than two weeks after they promptly signed Brown when he forced his release from the Oakland Raiders.

It was Brown who broke the news on his Twitter account.

"Thank you for the opportunity @Patriots #GoWinIt,'' he wrote and later added, "The marathon continues.''

The Patriots confirmed Brown's release in a statement that in part read, "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.’’

Brown, 31, is a seven-time Pro Bowler and remains one of the top receivers in the NFL. That was clear last week during his debut with Patriots, when he caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots’ 43-0 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

“It's unfortunate things didn't work out with the Patriots,’’ Drew Rosenhaus, Brown’s agent, said via Twitter. "But Antonio is healthy and is looking forward to his next opportunity in the NFL. He wants to play the game he loves and he hopes to play for another team soon.’’

But Brown, in his 10th season, confronts an uncertain future — stemming in part from a civil lawsuit in which he is accused of sexually assaulting one of his former personal trainers that might impact the willingness of NFL teams to sign him.

Brown's defiant behavior last season prompted the Pittsburgh Steelers to trade him to the Oakland Raiders, who signed Brown to a three-year contract that included a $30 million guarantee. But the Raiders voided the guarantee earlier this month after a series of bizarre and disruptive behavior by Brown.

That included Brown arriving for preseason camp with frostbitten feet as a result of botched cryotherapy treatment; skipping practices while appealing to use a helmet that no longer meets NFL safety standards; a verbal altercation with Raiders general manager Mike Maycock after Brown was fined; and his request that the Raiders release him.

The Patriots signed Brown to a one-year, $15 million contract that included a $9 million signing bonus. However, it was reported Friday that $5 million, the first installment of that bonus, was due to Brown on Monday, with the remaining $4 million not to be paid until Jan. 15.

Regardless, Brown's total income from salary and bonuses over his career is approaching $80 million. His earning power, though, took a hit on Thursday when Nike cut ties with Brown.

Brown took questions from reporters on Thursday for the first time since joining the Patriots, but he was not asked directly about the lawsuit or allegations of sexual misconduct.

"I'm just here to focus on ball," Brown said.

Britney Taylor, one of Brown’s former trainers, filed a civil lawsuit last week alleging that Brown raped her during one of three incidents of sexual assault that occurred in 2017 and 2018. Sports Illustrated subsequently reported that a second woman, who remains unidentified, also accused Brown of sexual assault.

Late Friday, the NFL released the following statement: "Antonio Brown was released today by the New England Patriots and is currently an unrestricted free agent. Our office is presently investigating multiple allegations, some of which are the subject of pending litigation. We have as yet made no findings regarding these issues. The investigation is ongoing and will be pursued vigorously and expeditiously.

"As long as Mr. Brown is a free agent, placement on the Commissioner's exempt list is not appropriate. If he is signed by a club, such placement may become appropriate at any time depending on the status of the investigation. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, he may also be subject to discipline if the investigation finds that he has violated the law or league policies."    

Brown, who led the NFL with 15 receiving touchdowns last season, has a career total of 841 catches, 11,263 receiving yards and 75 touchdowns.

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