Antonio Brown makes his debut as a New England Patriot while facing sex assault allegations
Antonio Brown is playing his first game as a New England Patriot, five days after he was sued on allegations of rape and sexual assault.
The star wide receiver appeared on the team’s game-day active roster. The Patriots play the Miami Dolphins at 1 p.m. ET.
But it’s still not clear whether Brown will actually take the field.
Five days ago, his former Bible study partner and physical trainer accused him of rape and sexual assault.
Brown has denied the allegations.
In a news conference Friday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick wouldn’t confirm whether Brown would play Sunday.
“We’ll do what’s best for the team,” Belichick said.
What Brown and his accuser say
Brown’s former personal trainer Britney Taylor filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday claiming Brown sexually assaulted her multiple times.
The lawsuit says Taylor, a former gymnast, and Brown met in 2010 when they were paired as Bible study partners at the Central Michigan University chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Taylor says Brown reached out to her on social media around 2013 to ask for photos of her. When she sent a photo of her face, the lawsuit says, he asked for something more revealing and she refused.
In 2017, Brown said he wanted Taylor to train him to improve his flexibility and ankle strength, the suit says.
Taylor said Brown sexually assaulted her twice in June 2017 and raped her in May 2018.
Brown’s attorney said his client vehemently denies the allegations and believes Taylor is after his money.
“Mr. Brown, whose hard work and dedication to his craft has allowed him to rise to the top of his profession, refuses to be the victim of what he believes to be a money grab,” attorney Darren Heitner said in a statement.
Brown and Taylor were in discussions about a settlement over an “extended period of time” before Taylor filed her lawsuit, according to a source close to the case.
The source would not detail how long the discussions lasted, but said such talks are not uncommon.
Brown’s attorney told CNN he had no comment.
Why Brown might not play
Brown could sit if the Patriots don’t think he’s ready after only a few practices with the team.
He signed with the Patriots last weekend, just hours after he was released by the Oakland Raiders following a dramatic falling out with that team.
Even though Brown doesn’t face criminal charges, it’s possible the NFL could discipline him after its own investigation into the claims in the civil suit.
Taylor’s attorney, David Haas, told CNN his client will meet with the NFL this week.
The NFL adopted a much stricter policy against off-the-field violence after a 2014 incident involving Ray Rice, then a running back with the Baltimore Ravens, who was caught on a security camera punching his fiancée. The episode sparked widespread outrage.
The NFL’s new policy calls for an independent investigation and adjudication in abuse cases, separate from law enforcement.
The league hired veteran prosecutors and investigators to see whether accused players should face discipline, even if no criminal charges are filed.