The New England Patriots have released receiver Antonio Brown after a second woman accused him of sexual misconduct.
The team announced the move Friday in a statement emailed to reporters.
The statement said: “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.”
Brown has been accused of rape in a lawsuit by a former trainer. He is also accused of exposing himself to a painter he had hired. He has denied the allegations.
The Patriots signed Brown this month hours after he was released by Oakland. He was traded to the Raiders after wearing out his welcome with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he was a four-time All-Pro in nine seasons.
New England coach Bill Belichick coach cut short his regular media availability on Friday before the team released the receiver. Belichick 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.”
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. The NFL could place him on the commissioner’s exempt list, which makes him ineligible to play or practice with the team, but he still would be paid.
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.
The NFL did not respond to requests for comment.
Belichick took the unusual step on Friday of addressing a non-football situation before being asked.
“We take all the situations with our team very seriously,” he said. “There are some things we are looking into but I’m not going to have any comment on the off-the-field situations.”
Asked if he expected Brown to play Sunday against the New York Jets, Belichick said, “He’s on our roster.”
But when more questions about Brown followed, the coach left.
In the Sports Illustrated story, the woman who was hired to paint by Brown says she “received a group text message that appeared to come from the same phone number Brown provided to her in 2017. The text chain, with four other phone numbers on it, included photos of her and her children, with the person she believes is Brown encouraging others in the group to investigate the woman. The texter accused the artist of fabricating her account of the 2017 incident for cash.”
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.