According to sources cited in a report, neither the New England Patriots nor the Oakland Raiders were aware of the Antonio Brown allegations until Tuesday.
When news first broke that star receiver Antonio Brown had been implicated in a South Florida lawsuit alleging he was responsible for sexual assault and rape, one of the immediate questions that followed was whether the New England Patriots – or the Oakland Raiders, for that matter – were previously aware of these accusations.
At least according to sources cited in a new report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, it now appears that neither NFL organization knew about the allegations ahead of time until they became a matter of public knowledge on Tuesday.
Fowler states that while legal representatives from both Brown’s camp and from his accuser’s – former trainer Britney Taylor – had been engaged in discussions for months prior to Tuesday’s public filing, all of their communication had been strictly confidential. As such, neither the Patriots, nor the Raiders, nor anyone else from the NFL, the media, or the outside world in general, should have known about the pending lawsuit “unless there was a breach in the confidentiality of those discussions,” says Fowler.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden had previously declined to speak about Brown or his legal issues, instead telling reporters to ask the Patriots for any information related to the troubled but talented wide receiver.
Brown was briefly a member of the Oakland organization this offseason, but was released by the Raiders after a series of public episodes and confrontations between him and team management.
New England reportedly signed Brown just hours after he was granted his official release from Oakland, prompting many to wonder if there hadn’t been some prior back-door communications between the Patriots and Brown (or his agent, Drew Rosenhaus). The signing was made official earlier this week on Monday, and the very next day, news got out about the rape allegations.
For the time being at least, it appears those fans who feared the worst – that the Patriots knew Brown would be implicated and signed him anyway – can rest easy knowing that New England was as oblivious to the legal situation as everyone else was, outside of the parties directly involved of course.
Brown has been practicing with the team these past two days in Foxborough. While Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have both refused to comment on Brown’s off-the-field situation, both have acknowledged his presence on the team, with Brady and other teammates going so far as to say they’ve been impressed with what they’ve seen so far from a football perspective.
While it’s not immediately known whether Brown will be allowed to play in Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, the prevailing expectation is that barring any last-minute intervention by the league or commissioner’s office, he should be active for the game against Miami and will make his Patriots debut somewhere around 1 pm EST this Sunday.
Brown was spotted wearing a No. 17 jersey on Thursday, a day after he wore a temporary No. 1 jersey to practice. He also later shared footage on his social media account of himself working out at Brady’s TB12 Sports Therapy Center in Foxborough.