Antonio Brown released by the Patriots as NFL continues look into accusations
The New England Patriots are finished with wide receiver Antonio Brown.
“The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown,” a Patriots team spokesperson said in a statement on Friday afternoon. “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.”
Brown — who played in his lone game in a Patriots uniform last Sunday, scoring a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins — took to Twitter on Friday afternoon, thanking the Patriots for the opportunity and saying, “The marathon continues.”
Later, he added: “Just got fired on a Friday.”
In a tweet, Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, commented on the release.
“It’s unfortunate things didn’t work out with the Patriots,” he wrote. “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.”
NFL officials said in a statement that an investigation into Brown’s conduct is ongoing and “will be pursued vigorously and expeditiously.”
Brown is an unrestricted free agent and will not be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, the NFL said. That could change if he signs with a team, the NFL officials said, adding it would depend on the status of the inquiry.
“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,” the NFL said.
Second accuser’s attorneys release letter
The move to release Brown came the week a second woman accused the wide receiver of sexual misconduct.
In response to the Patriots’ move, Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, attorneys for the unnamed accuser, released a statement, saying: “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 case.”
The attorneys’ statement Friday included a copy of the letter to NFL officials.
In it, they write that Brown texted the woman after Sports Illustrated reported the woman’s sexual misconduct accusations and his alleged response.
They say Brown included the woman in a series of group text messages, claiming she was out to get money with her story. In those messages, Brown asked others to look into the woman’s background and included a photo of her children, Banks wrote.
Sports Illustrated had reported that the woman, an artist hired to paint a mural inside Brown’s home in Pittsburgh in 2017, said the athlete appeared naked behind her on her second day of work, holding a small hand towel over his genitals. Banks says the texts messages came after the publication of Monday’s SI report and her client considered them threats.
In a tweet Monday, attorney Darren Heitner denied the artist’s allegations. CNN reached out to Heitner and Rosenhaus about the allegations of threatening texts, but didn’t get a response.
Coach fumes over Brown questions — and walks out
Just a few hours before Brown was cut, head coach Bill Belichick walked out of his news conference with reporters — refusing to answer questions on Brown.
At the end of his opening address to reporters on Friday — before the team announced Brown’s release — Belichick did acknowledge Brown, saying: “I know there are questions about Antonio. We take all the situations with our team very seriously. There are some things that we’re looking into. But I’m not going to have any comment on any of the off-the-field situations or questions on that.”
During the news conference, Belichick was asked if he expected Brown would be available for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets. Belichick responded by saying, “He’s on our roster.”
After Belichick received another question about Brown, the coach said: “I think I’ve already addressed this, so we’re going to get ready for the Jets here. Happy to answer any football questions. The rest of it … I’m done with the rest of it.”
The next question was about Brown, prompting Belichick to say, “I’m good. OK? Thank you.” He then walked off.
The media availability lasted roughly three minutes, 30 seconds.
Also this week, Nike cut ties with Brown.
CNN’s David Close contributed to this report.