New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft jointly decided with coach Bill Belichick to release wide receiver Antonio Brown, according to a new report.
Kraft became enraged on Friday afternoon when he learned of ‘intimidating and threatening’ text messages that Brown sent to one of the women accusing him of sexual misconduct, sources told the Atlantic.
The billionaire owner then conferred with Belichick, who operates as the team’s de facto general manager, and they agreed to release Brown immediately, just 11 days after signing him for $15 million, the sources said.
Brown was instantly cut from the team, with the Patriots releasing a statement saying: ‘We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time.’
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (file photo) was rubbed the wrong way by the revelation of the intimidating text messages, and decided with Belichick to cut Brown
The Patriots have released Antonio Brown (pictured September 15) after he was accused of sexual assault and he was dropped by Nike
The woman says she was added to a group chat by a number that Brown was using when she worked for him, before he branded her a ‘broke girl’. Also included in the chat were Brown’s lawyer and two other figures who he asked to ‘look up her background’
Brown, 31, only signed with the Super Bowl champions on September 9, two days after being released by the Oakland Raiders without playing a game due to his social media feud with management.
The day after signing with the Patriots, Brown was accused of rape in a lawsuit filed in Florida, and later of unwanted sexual advances by a second, unnamed, woman.
Just hours before his release on Friday, shocking text message threats were revealed that Brown apparently made against the second woman to accuse him of misconduct.
The unnamed woman said she was included in a group chat by a number that Brown gave her when she worked for him, before she was branded a ‘super broke girl’ and accused of trying to extort money.
Texts from the number belonging to Brown then asked others in the group chat – which included Brown’s lawyer Darren Heitner – to ‘look into her background’ before posting pictures of her children.
A man identified in the texts as Eric B then replied ‘yes sir we will do that’ before a second respondent added ‘send me her info bro’.
Eric then noticed she attended a Meek Mill rally, suggesting: ‘I can reach out to his team tomorrow and see if anyone knows her.
‘She sounds like a celebrity groupie.’
The woman says she met Brown after he bought one of her paintings at a 2017 charity auction (pictured), then invited her to his home to paint a mural. On her second day of work, she claims he approached her naked with only a small towel covering himself, before trying to talk to her
Full statement of the attorneys for the female accuser
‘In response to the New England Patriots release of Antonio Brown, Lisa Banks and Debra Katz of Katz, Marshall & Banks, attorneys for one of Mr. Brown’s accusers, released the following statement:
‘The NFL and the Patriots clearly took our client’s concerns seriously. She wanted the threats and intimidation to stop and we hope that will be the case. The NFL has assured us that regardless of Antonio Brown’s roster status, it will continue to investigate all claims regarding his behavior.
‘We are gratified that the NFL recognized that it has an important role to play in policing player conduct that is sexually harassing and threatening.’
The texts were revealed by Sports Illustrated, which first published the woman’s claims along with details of a number of other lawsuits against Brown, mostly for unpaid bills.
Lisa J. Banks, the lawyer representing the artist, said she has sent a letter to the NFL about the texts, asking for them to intervene.
In a statement on Friday, attorneys for the woman Brown threatened said: ‘The NFL and the Patriots clearly took our client’s concerns seriously.’
‘She wanted the threats and intimidation to stop and we hope that will be the case. The NFL has assured us that regardless of Antonio Brown’s roster status, it will continue to investigate all claims regarding his behavior,’ the statement continued.
The NFL said on Friday night that that Brown’s status is currently that of an unrestricted free agent, making it technically possible for another team to sign him.
‘Our office is currently investigating multiple allegations, some of which are the subject of pending litigation,’ the league said in a statement. ‘We have as yet made no findings regarding these issues.’
The NFL said that as long as Brown is a free agent, he cannot be placed on the Commissioner’s exempt list, barring him from play.
The league noted however that, if signed by a team, he could be exempted at any time depending on the investigation’s findings.
Britney Taylor, 28, (left) was the first to come forward to accuse Brown (right) of sexual assault and rape. filing a lawsuit the day after he signed with the Patriots
Timeline of Antonio Brown’s downfall
2010: The Pittsburgh Steelers draft Brown in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
2010 season to 2018 season: With the Steelers, Brown excels, blowing draft expectations out out the water.
In Pittsburgh, he amasses more receptions and receiving yards than any other player since he entered the league.
July 18, 2018: Brown is named as the cover athlete for Madden NFL 19.
March 9, 2019: The Steelers agree to trade Brown to the Oakland Raiders, who sign him for a three-year, $30 million deal.
August 3: Brown posts a picture of his heavily blistered feet on Instagram, which was later revealed to be frostbites to his feet due to not wearing proper footwear during a cryotherapy session.
August 9: Brown files a grievance demanding to continue wearing his old helmet even though it had been banned. Between his helmet and his feet, Brown misses 10 out of 11 training camp practices.
September 4: Brown is fined a combined $54,000 by general manager Mike Mayock due to unexcused absences. He posts the fine letter on Instagram.
September 5: Brown has a verbal altercation with Mayock, who is white, and reportedly calls the GM a ‘cracker.’ Brown denies the report.
September 7: The Oakland Raiders release Brown.
September 9: The New England Patriots sign Brown on a one-year, $15 million deal.
September 10: Brown’s former personal trainer Britney Taylor, 28, accuses him of rape in a lawsuit filed in Florida.
September 15: In his only game with the Patriots, Brown gets four receptions for 56 yards and one touchdown in a 43-0 win over the Dolphins.
September 16: A second, unnamed, woman accuses Brown of sexual harassment in an interview with Sports Illustrated.
September 19: Nike drops Brown from a massive endorsement deal.
September 20: Reports emerge that Brown sent threatening text messages to the second accuser. Patriots coach Bill Belichick storms out of press conference after facing avalanche of questions about Brown.
September 20: Just hours after the press conference, the Patriots announce that Brown has been released from the team.
Brown had been due to receive the first $5 million of his $9 million signing bonus from the Patriots on Monday.
It is unclear whether he will still receive any of that money, though many experts interpreted the timing of the Patriots move as a way to avoid the bonus payment.
If the Patriots manage to avoid paying the signing bonus, Brown will have gone in the span of two weeks from $30 million in guaranteed money with Oakland to just $158,333 in 2019 salary for his one game with the Patriots.
In addition, he has lost lucrative sponsorship deals in the same period, including a major deal with Nike, which dropped Brown on Thursday.
The letter said the texts were ‘intimidating and threatening to our client, in violation of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.
Brown quickly responded with a flurry of tweets, writing: ‘Thanks for the opportunity @Patriots #GoWinIt.’
Another read: ‘If I’m lying then I’m flying’, alongside a photo of him jumping into the crowd after he scored a touchdown during the only game he played for the Patriots.
He tweeted a picture of himself and head coach Bill Belichick along with the caption: ‘Thank you.’
Brown then shared a meme with the words: ‘Sometimes people try to destroy you precisely because they recognize your power. Not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and they don’t want it to exist.’
He added in his own words: ‘The marathon continues.’
Later Friday evening, Brown added: ‘Just got fired on Friday’
Antonio Brown shared a series of messages on his Twitter after news of his release broke
His agent, Drew Rosenhaus said in a statement: ‘It’s unfortunate things didn’t work out with the Patriots. 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.’
His agent, Drew Rosenhaus said in a statement: ‘It’s unfortunate things didn’t work out with the Patriots. 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.’
It comes hours after Belichick stormed out of a press conference on Friday after reporters repeatedly asked him about the latest allegations surrounding Brown.
The head coach opened Friday’s presser acknowledging the reporters’ desire to ask questions pertaining to Brown but added that he would not be commenting on those.
‘We take all the situations with our team very seriously,’ he said, ahead of the Patriots game against the New York Jets on Sunday. ‘There are some things we’re looking into. I’m not going to comment on any of the off-the-field situations.’
But the reporters would not let up on their questions, prompting the coach to become even more irritated.
The New England Patriots head coach opened Friday’s presser acknowledging the reporters’ desire to ask questions pertaining to Brown
Reporters would not let up on their questions about Brown, prompting the coach to walk out
‘I think I have already addressed this so we are going to get ready for the Jets here,’ he asserted. ‘I’ll answer your football questions but the rest I am done with it.’
A reporter starts asking if ‘off-field stuff’ could contribute to issues the team could face in their game but the coach sees through the questions and storms off.
The latest news surrounding Brown involved a female artist who leveled claims earlier this week that Brown made unwanted sexual advances before firing her.
Sports Illustrated reported that she contacted the NFL Thursday, saying Brown sent her ‘intimidating and threatening’ texts.
The artist came forward with her claims after Britney Taylor, 28, Brown’s former personal trainer, came forward to accuse him of sexual assault and rape.
Taylor says she was hired by Brown as a personal trainer in 2017 – alleging the first rape to have taken place in during a training session in June that year.
Taylor, a gymnast who first met Brown while they were both studying at Central Michigan University, says the 31-year-old ‘exposed himself and kissed [her] without consent,’ according to documents obtained by DailyMail.com.
It also comes after Nike Inc said it had cut ties with Brown.
‘Antonio Brown is not a Nike athlete,’ the company said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday. However, Brown’s Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers jerseys were for sale on the Nike web site on Thursday morning.