If news of the civil sexual assault lawsuit filed against wide receiver Antonio Brown on Tuesday caught you by surprise, you reportedly have something in common with the Raiders and Patriots.
Representatives for Brown and his former trainer Britney Taylor were in discussions over the last few months, but agreed that those discussions would remain confidential before Taylor's lawsuit was filed, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported Thursday citing sources. Consequently, ESPN's source suggests there's no way the Raiders and Patriots could have known about the pending lawsuit ahead of time unless there was a breach of confidentiality.
In a team statement Tuesday night, the Patriots said they "take these allegations very seriously," and confirmed the NFL will be investigating. When asked Wednesday if the Raiders knew about the federal lawsuit ahead of time, Oakland head coach Jon Gruden told reporters that if they want to ask about Brown, they "can call his employer."
Taylor's lawsuit alleges that Brown sexually assaulted her on three separate occasions, twice in June 2017 and once in May 2018. She reportedly has a meeting with the NFL scheduled for next week to discuss the matter, and Brown is expected to meet with the league at some point as well.
In the meantime, the NFL has the option of placing Brown on the commissioner's exempt list, which would bar him from being on New England's active list while still getting paid.
One high-ranking team official reportedly told Fowler that players aren't obligated to notify teams about civil cases before signing free-agent contracts. Once it rises to the level of a criminal case, however, it becomes a different story.