Foolish if Patriots were really blindsided by Antonio Brown allegations

Ryan Hannable
September 12, 2019 - 5:00 am

FOXBOROUGH — Antonio Brown has only been a Patriot officially for three days, and before even stepping on the field for his first practice, he caused a distraction.

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On Tuesday, just over 24 hours after officially becoming a member of the Patriots organization, a civil lawsuit in Florida surfaced of Brown being accused of sexual assault and rape on a woman who he had met at Central Michigan and then years later was hired as his personal trainer.

Obviously, this is a pretty big thing to come out just a few days after signing a contract with a new team, including $10 million in guarantees. 

The biggest question of all seems to be were the Patriots aware of the potential of a lawsuit when they agreed to terms with him Saturday afternoon, just hours after he was released by the Raiders?

“I would like to think that if they knew this was coming — sexual assault, the word rape accusation, those types of things — they would not have signed Antonio Brown,” former Patriots linebacker and current ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi said on Ordway, Merloni & Fauria Wednesday.

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, both the Patriots and NFL did not know about the potential of the lawsuit before it was released Tuesday. This is where it gets confusing, and really not great for the Patriots.

Based on everything we know now, they probably should have known — or at least not been caught totally off guard like they claim.

For starters, Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus went on ESPN Wednesday afternoon and the first thing he said was he and Brown had known for awhile the potential for a lawsuit was there. It’s worth wondering if as his agent, if it’s Rosenhaus’ responsibility to disclose that to the team, as his No. 1 goal is to get his client signed and for the most money. 

But, what about the narrative that Rosenhaus and the Patriots have a good working relationship? If that were the case, wouldn’t that be something he’d give them a heads up about? Even if he said his client did no wrong and it is a “money grab” like both Brown’s legal representation and Rosenhaus have said.

Another thing to note is the Patriots didn’t even meet with Brown before agreeing to a deal on Saturday. He was released just before noon Eastern and four hours later he agreed to become a Patriot. There was no face-to-face meeting between Brown and anyone from the Patriots organization, which is a little puzzling given everything that went down in Oakland. 

Wouldn’t someone from the team want to physically see Brown and ask a few questions about what happened in Oakland to get his point of view and make sure he isn’t completely off the rails? It’s unlikely Brown would have disclosed the potential of a lawsuit, but signing him after everything that happened over the last few weeks without a face-to-face meeting doesn’t seem like proper business.

Maybe it was a case where Bill Belichick and the organization were so infatuated with a player like Brown, who it has been interested in dating back to when he was with the Steelers, becoming available that they just wanted to get him aboard as fast as possible.

Again, not great business practice.

Lastly, the potential of this lawsuit was actually out in public as of Saturday morning, A Twitter user, @IncarceratedBob, posted a video showing Brown’s Instagram direct messages of someone alerting the wide receiver of what his accuser was about to do.

We all know Belichick isn’t on social media, but he doesn’t need to be to find this out. The Patriots organization has a security team and it is their job to do background checks on players, checkups, etc. This could have been found with a basic Twitter search.

While it doesn’t seem necessary, when giving out $10 million guaranteed, shouldn’t every I be dotted and every T crossed? One would think, but it certainly doesn’t seem like it was with Brown.

The allegations against Brown are very serious in nature, which captains Matthew Slater and Devin McCourty alluded to when speaking the locker room Wednesday afternoon. Belichick also noted this in his press conference Wednesday morning, while including everyone in the building.

“We're taking it very seriously all the way through the organization,” he said.

This indicates ownership is now involved and it isn’t just Belichick and football ops.

Anything can happen at this point when it comes to Brown. 

Nothing else could come out and he could play in all 15 remaining games. He could play Sunday in Miami and then other things could come out leading to him being suspended or released. He could even be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list now while the NFL investigates, meaning he’s not eligible to play in games or practice. Everything seems to be on the table.

While the Patriots certainly didn’t expect rape allegations to surface when they signed Brown, they had to have had some idea the potential for a distraction at any time was there given his recent behavior.

It remains to be seen how this will ultimately go, but it does appear more could have been done on the Patriots’ end before committing $10 million in guarantees to him.

Related: Patriots’ captains discuss Antonio Brown ‘situation,’ distraction