Patriots release Antonio Brown amid sexual assault accusations

MIAMI, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 15: Wide Receiver Antonio Brown #17 of the New England Patriots warms up prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots cut ties with Antonio Brown.

The team announced his release Friday afternoon in a written statement.

“The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown. 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.”

Head coach Bill Belichick cut short his regular media availability Friday, a day after a second woman accused the Patriots receiver of sexual misconduct. The coach said the team is looking into “some things,” then refused to answer several more questions about Brown, saying, “I’m done with the rest of it.”

After another question about Brown, Belichick walked out .

Earlier Friday, Nike spokesman Josh Benedek confirmed that the company is no longer working with Brown, telling The Associated Press, “Antonio Brown is not a Nike athlete.” The move comes after Brown, who already faces a civil suit contending he raped a former trainer, was accused of exposing himself to a woman working on a mural at his Pittsburgh home.

Through his lawyer, Brown has denied the allegations.

A person familiar with the investigation process told the AP that the league has not summoned Brown for a meeting, which would require a union representative to be present. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigative process is not made public.

In his first interview with reporters since agreeing to a one-year, $15 million deal with the Patriots on Sept. 7, Brown took only four questions on Thursday and declined to answer questions about the accusations. Sports Illustrated first reported on the second accuser, and Nike’s decision was first reported by the Boston Globe.

NFL spokesmen did not respond to requests for comment.

Brown, a four-time All-Pro, caught 837 passes over nine seasons with Pittsburgh. But the Steelers tired of his antics and traded him to Oakland in March. He signed a deal with the Raiders that would have paid him up to $50 million, but he quarreled with management and never made it onto the field in the silver and black.

Just hours after requesting his release from the Raiders, the Patriots signed him.

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