Threatening texts from Antonio Brown were the tipping point for Patriots

Threatening texts from Antonio Brown were the tipping point for Patriots

Eleven days, five practices, one game, four catches, 56 yards, one touchdown, two abbreviated Bill Belichick press conferences, one civil lawsuit describing two instances of sexual assault and a rape of one woman, one texted threat to a single mother of three that included photos of her children and one nebulous statement from “A PATRIOTS SPOKESPERSON”  and the Antonio Brown era is over.

The unattributed statement announcing Brown’s release says, “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.”  
  
Plenty of people in the fanbase and probably in the locker room will complain Brown is gone because of flimsy allegations, and a media witch hunt.

 Neither is the case. It was the text messages he sent Wednesday night.  
 
Threatening a woman who hadn’t made an attempt to recoup the money she alleges he owed her for working on a painting until he propositioned her while naked? A woman who only wanted to be left alone? Send a text that not only insults and threatens her but promises you’ll be having your henchmen climb into her life? And then include a picture of her children?
 
That, I’m told by a source, is why Antonio Brown is gone. The texts were a bridge too far for all the organization’s decision-makers. Because of that, I’m told, the decision was made that he had to go.
 
“Everybody got to the same place,” said a source.

 
Even if the Patriots had already paid the $5 million installment of his bonus they were due to pay by Monday, the team still would have released him based on those texts, the source said.

The Patriots were not aware of the allegations made by Britney Taylor that appeared in the civil suit filed just a day after Brown signed. Would they have signed Brown if they had known a civil suit that included those allegations was coming? Unlikely. But once he was under the team’s umbrella, releasing him without a criminal complaint was something the team couldn’t countenance.
 
But the texts that came to light Friday morning were something that occurred while Brown was a member of the team. There was no arguing they didn’t come from him. The decision to release Brown was unanimous.

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Patriots $5M installment of Antonio Brown's signing bonus due Monday

Patriots $5M installment of Antonio Brown's signing bonus due Monday

The first installment of Antonio Brown’s $9M signing bonus must be paid by Monday.

If the Patriots haven’t already coughed up the $5M they agreed to give Brown when they officially signed him on September 9, news that broke Thursday night of Brown sending threatening text messages this week to a woman should give them pause about cutting that check.

If the Patriots have paid it, it will likely take some wrangling to get it back if the team ultimately decides to follow the lead of Nike and helmet manufacturer Xenith and get out of the Antonio Brown business by releasing him.

Brown’s tenure with the Patriots has been an unmitigated PR disaster not nearly outweighed by the four catches for 56 yards he had in last week’s 43-0 win over Miami.

When it was just unpaid bills for services rendered, ill-advised Facebook Live content, going 100 in a 45, showing up late or not at all for events, launching furniture from the upper floors of his condo, frozen feet, an uncomfortable helmet, calling the Raiders GM a cracker and persistent social media drama, it was all fun-and-games and the Patriots were happy to hold their nose because the football he played was so, so good.

Fifteen days later, not so much. The civil lawsuit filed alleging two instances of sexual assault and one instance of rape led NFL investigators to interview Brown’s alleged victim for 10 hours on Monday.

Less than 48 hours later on Wednesday night, Brown went back at a woman who said Brown approached her naked aside from a facecloth on his genitals while she was working on a painting for him. He derided the woman as a “celebrity groupie” on a group text, instructed a henchman to look into her background “to see how broke this girl is”, included images of the woman’s children on the text chain and said he would be reaching out to the “team” surrounding rapper Meek Mill to try and dig for more on the woman.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft took up for Meek Mill while the rapper was imprisoned and developed a friendship with him.

Language in Brown’s contract says the deal is “null and void” if he “takes any action that materially undermines the public's respect for, or is materially critical of, the Club, the Player's teammates or the Club's ownership, coaches.”

Has Brown taken any action that “materially undermines the public’s respect for … the Club”? What does “material” mean in this instance? It could also be argued the mere signing of Brown in the first place lowered the public’s respect for it.

AB's first public comments since joining the Patriots>>>

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Tom E. Curran's AFC Power Rankings after Week 2

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Tom E. Curran's AFC Power Rankings after Week 2

We have a canyon-sized gap opening up in the AFC between the two top teams and the collection of teams leaking oil already. And then there are the irredeemables at the bottom. Between quarterback attrition, locker room dysfunction and painful rebuilds, it seems like half the conference is gasping for breath and summer hasn’t even officially ended.

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