You’ve got to hand it to him. Somehow, some way, Antonio Brown manages to find ways to keep himself in the news, although I legitimately cannot recall the last time that his being written about was in a positive light. The former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver has been a one-man dramatic theater throughout the offseason, but one wonders if it could soon see the curtains close.
On Tuesday, just one day after signing a contract with the New England Patriots—which came days after he forced his release from the Oakland Raiders—Brown was officially sued by his former trainer, a college associate by the name of Britney Taylor.
Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reports that all of this has gone down in confidentiality. Brown and Taylor, he writes, had been in discussions for months leading up to the filing of the suit, but both parties agreed that their communications would remain private.
The reporter also cites a source who told him that players are not obligated to inform teams as a free agent of any pending civil litigation, which is what this would amount to, even though it is now abundantly clear that Brown has known at least for several months that one would, or could be coming down the pipeline.
As we have previously reported, Taylor, formerly a gymnast as CMU who says that the two met in bible study, was hired by Brown in 2017 to train him, as she later operated a gym. In three separate incidents, she alleges that he engaged in sexual misconduct, performing sexual acts in front of—or behind—and to her over the next two years, culminating in a forcible rape at his Miami residence in 2018.
The fact that she has willingly made her name and case a matter of public record is laudable. Even though Brown’s reputation is at the lowest that it has been in years, at this point, she will be, and has been, picked apart in the court of public opinion for, among other things, waiting to do anything, and for not filing a criminal charge against him, but rather a civil one.
According to Fowler, Taylor plans to speak to league representatives next week and intends to fully cooperate with their investigation, which they have already informed the Patriots will be carried out. Brown is also expected to speak to the league at some point.
For the time being, New England is allowing him to participate on the practice field. He wore a generic No. 1 jersey on Wednesday, but yesterday had a No. 17 jersey, the same number that his father wore in the AFL. His No. 17 jersey was retired.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the NFL “will seriously consider placing Antonio Brown on paid leave via its commissioner’s exempt list”, though Fowler indicated that they may not take this action in time for Sunday, and it was reported earlier today that that will not happen. Mike Florio speculated that the Patriots could cooperate with the league and not dress him under the guise of not being up to speed yet.