FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Antonio Brown took part in his first practice with the New England Patriots on Wednesday afternoon, a day after his former trainer filed a civil lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida accusing him of sexually assaulting her on three occasions.
Brown, who has worn No. 84 throughout his NFL career, was wearing No. 1, his temporary number, at practice.
Coach Bill Belichick declined to comment on additional questions about Brown before the practice, including his status for Sunday’s game at Miami. During his brief news conference, Belichick repeatedly said, “We’re working on Miami.”
Asked about Brown after practice, Patriots players mostly declined to speak about the situation.
“No,” Tom Brady answered when asked if he had any comment.
Added team captain Matthew Slater: “I certainly don’t wanna minimize the seriousness of a situation like this. Very sensitive manner, and don’t wanna minimize it at all. But that being said, I certainly don’t think that I should be speaking on it, or I’m qualified to speak on it, because I don’t have any knowledge of the situation.”
In the lawsuit, a copy of which was reviewed by ESPN, Brown’s former trainer, Britney Taylor, accuses the newly signed Patriots receiver of sexually assaulting her on three separate occasions, in 2017 (while in the Pittsburgh area) and 2018 (twice in the Miami area).
Taylor is willing and planning to meet with the NFL next week. She is getting married and can’t meet before then, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Ed Griffith, the public information officer for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, said in a statement that “having reviewed our records, we found no prior police investigative contacts regarding these allegations or these individuals.
“We will be reaching out to the pertinent police agencies to determine if they had any prior contacts or investigations. If such police investigations exist, we would certainly be interested in those reports and any related evidence gathered,” he said.
The Allegheny County (Pennsylvania) District Attorney’s Office told ESPN that “as a matter of course” it reviews “information in a federal lawsuit whenever that information references potential criminal activity, even if that activity had not been previously known to law enforcement.”
Belichick deferred to the Patriots’ statement late Tuesday, which said they were aware of the lawsuit and “take these allegations very seriously.”
“On Antonio’s situation, both Antonio and his representatives have made statements, so I’m not going to be expanding on any of those. 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 be entering a discussion about that today,” he said.
Antonio Brown was on the practice field Wednesday for the Patriots in a temporary No. 1 jersey. AP Photo/Steven Senne
Brown has denied the allegations. Darren Heitner, a lawyer representing Brown, said his client plans to countersue.
Drew Rosenhaus, Brown’s agent, told ESPN on Wednesday that he and his client were “anticipating this possibility” that a lawsuit would be filed, but he declined to say whether the Patriots knew of the looming lawsuit before signing Brown.
Rosenhaus said he has been in contact with the NFL Players Association, which has spoken to the NFL.
“What I want to emphasize to everybody is, please allow the situation to play itself out. Antonio will cooperate. He will cooperate with the Patriots, with the NFL, with any investigation, with the NFLPA; and in time, Antonio will be cleared,” he said.
The NFL has declined to comment but began its investigation into the matter on Wednesday, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports.
Belichick not taking questions about BrownPatriots coach Bill Belichick refuses to answer questions about Antonio Brown at his weekly news conference.
The lawsuit caught the Patriots by surprise, sources told Schefter, and the team will have to decide how to proceed with Brown. One possibility is that Roger Goodell will place Brown on the commissioner’s exempt list, sources said, which would mean Brown will not be counted on the Patriots’ active list while the league investigates the allegations.
Brown was originally traded from Pittsburgh to Oakland in the offseason. But a bizarre foot injury, fights with the NFL over his helmet, skipped practices, multiple fines, a run-in with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and inflammatory social media posts ultimately led to the decision to release Brown.
He agreed to a deal with the defending Super Bowl champions hours after the Raiders granted his request and let him go.