New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick expects wide receiver Antonio Brown to practice with the team Wednesday. Belichick answered only a handful of questions about Brown, who was accused of rape by his former trainer Tuesday night, before cutting off the conversation to focus on the Miami Dolphins.
Brown is accused of three separate incidents of sexual assault and rape against his former trainer, who filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Florida. On Tuesday night, the Patriots released a statement saying the NFL was investigating the situation, and that the team would have no further comment until that investigation was completed.
The Patriots did not address Brown’s status in their initial statement, leaving many to wonder whether the 31-year-old Brown would be allowed to play while the investigation was ongoing.
For now, it appears the Patriots will proceed as usual. Belichick said he expects Brown to take part in practice Wednesday.
Other than that, Belichick kept remarks about Brown brief.
“On Antonio's situation, both Antonio and his representatives have made statements, so I'm not going to be expanding on any of those,” Belichick told reporters. “They are what they are. We've looked into the situation, we're taking it very seriously all the way through the organization. I'm sure there are questions but I'm not going to enter into any discussion about that today. That's where we're at."
Belichick again leaned on those statements from Brown and his representatives when asked whether the Patriots knew about the lawsuit when Brown signed. Regarding whether Brown would play Sunday, Belichick said the team would take things “one day at a time.”
He then cut off the conversation about Brown to focus on the team’s upcoming game against the Dolphins.
“We're working on Miami,” Belichick said.” The rest of it ... we're on Miami. I mean, I'm done with [questions about Brown], OK? Anything else, on Miami? Any other questions?"
In a statement, Brown denied the accusations.
While Belichick did not address the issue Wednesday, a report from ESPN suggested the Patriots were not aware of the lawsuit when they signed Brown. Drew Rosenhaus, Brown’s agent, also declined to talk about that issue on “SportsCenter” on Wednesday. Brown’s accuser is reportedly planning to meet with the NFL as part of its investigation.
The Patriots haven’t taken action yet, though some have speculated Brown could be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list. The NFL went that route with Adrian Peterson after he was charged with child abuse, and with Reuben Foster while Foster was being investigated for domestic violence.
If placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, Brown would not be eligible to practice of play for the Patriots, though he would still be paid.
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