Just hours after Patriots coach Bill Belichick prematurely ended a scheduled press conference because he didn’t want to answer questions about him, the organization released mercurial wide receiver Antonio Brown on Friday.
“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,” the team said in a statement.
The Patriots did not offer any explanation for their decision, but it was obviously made at some point before or after Brown participated in the team’s practice in preparation for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.
To this point, Brown has limited his comments to social media where he offered a brief thank you to the organization and Patriots fans.
“It’s unfortunate things didn’t work out with the Patriots,” the receiver’s agent, said Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus said in a text message to multiple news agencies. “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.”
Shortly after Brown was signed by the Patriots on Sept. 7, he was accused in a civil lawsuit of sexual assault by his former trainer, Britney Taylor. ESPN reported shortly thereafter that Brown decided against paying a $2 million settlement to close the case.
Earlier this week, Taylor met with the NFL, a meeting that reportedly spanned 10 hours. That interview apparently sent the league scrambling down other avenues looking to obtain more information.
And then Brown was hit with another allegation of sexual impropriety by a female artist invited to his home in 2017 to paint a portrait. Sports Illustrated uncovered that charge along with detailing other particulars of domestic issues related to Brown.
On Thursday, the lawyer for the artist contacted the NFL claiming Brown had sent texts described as threatening to the woman. Brown was then warned by the Patriots not to have any further contact with the woman.
The NFL is also investigating that incident.
Since his signing, Brown’s public statements had been limited to answering just four questions Thursday, during which he said his intention was just to play football. Last Sunday against the Dolphins, Brown made four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown after the team decided to play him during their 43-0 win.
After stepping away from a guaranteed $30 million by requesting his release by the Oakland Raiders, Brown was signed 90 minutes later by the Super Bowl champions who agreed to a $9 million signing bonus to be paid incrementally with the first $5 million due on Monday.
“I know there are questions about Antonio [Brown],” said Belichick before the announcement of the release. “We take all the situations with our team very seriously. There are some things we’re looking into. But I’m not going to have any comment on the off-the-field situations or questions on that.”
What’s unclear is whether the Patriots have information about Brown that influenced their decision or had just grown tired of the circus that had enveloped a notoriously tight-lipped organization since Brown arrived.
Either way, Brown’s strange journey has taken another direction.