Greater than three.7 million other folks practice the Patriots’ Antonio Brown on Instagram, and an excellent bite of them do, probably, no longer simply because he is likely one of the perfect receivers taking part in the rustic’s most well liked recreation.
Brown, 31, is now ensnared in a maelstrom, with the eye that he attracts as an athlete spotlighting a federal lawsuit that accuses him of sexual attack and rape, whilst additionally bringing extra scrutiny to the N.F.L.’s dealing with of studies of violence towards ladies.
A girl who had labored as Brown’s instructor is the plaintiff within the lawsuit, which was once filed on Tuesday. The lady, a former gymnast named Britney Taylor who met Brown about 10 years in the past once they had been scholars at Central Michigan, described 3 attacks within the court docket submitting, two in June 2017 and every other in Would possibly 2018.
Profane messages from Brown to Taylor are introduced as proof within the lawsuit, which additionally says that after Taylor returned to Brown’s house in South Florida to retrieve some private results at the day after she claims he raped her, she sought after to talk about what had came about and Brown answered that she “made me really feel like an actual rapist.”
Brown has denied the accusations in a statement from his attorney, and on Wednesday his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, mentioned in an interview with ESPN: “I’m advising him to let the reality pop out. I’m advising him to pay attention to soccer. I’m advising him to cooperate with the Patriots, with the N.F.L., with the N.F.L. Gamers Affiliation. Antonio and I each strongly consider that those allegations are very severe. On no account will we condone any form of unlawful habits, misbehavior. None of that came about right here.”
Past due Tuesday evening, the Patriots issued a observation pronouncing that the N.F.L. deliberate to do its personal investigation of the accusations.
The league, after mishandling studies of violence towards ladies up to now, bolstered its private habits coverage in 2014 — when some distinguished avid gamers, together with the operating again Ray Rice, had been charged with abuse or home violence, then later suspended. However enforcement of the coverage stays sophisticated, with the league dishing out punishments that seem inconsistent and suffering to get the cooperation of the ones concerned.
Brown practiced Wednesday with the New England Patriots, who formally signed him on Monday, two days after he was once launched by way of the Oakland Raiders. However he has no longer commented publicly at the allegations, and closing silent — no provocative Instagram tales or elaborately produced movies — should be sapping his strength of mind.
Brown’s skill granted him sure privileges that weren’t prolonged to teammates who didn’t often catch 100 passes or rating 10 touchdowns in step with season. And in addition to any famous person, he has leveraged his awesome manufacturing to his merit and for everybody’s leisure. Whether or not co-starring in a Drake video or flouting fines for yet another instantly memed touchdown celebration, Brown has cultivated a following that strains to see what he can possibly do next.
Brown has a penchant for making things public that should otherwise stay private, without the slightest compunction. Whether that means an Instagram post of a letter from the Raiders saying he would be fined nearly $54,000 for missing practices or, later, demanding on the platform that Oakland cut him, or releasing a YouTube video containing snippets of a phone call with his Raiders Coach Jon Gruden, Brown appears to relish defying the football standard for propriety.
He has circumvented mainstream news outlets to dispense his point of view, shaping how he is perceived in a league vigilant about suppressing individuality. In a different light, it’s an expression of self-determination, following a pattern dating to his time in Pittsburgh, where he spent the first nine seasons of his career. Brown was benched for the Steelers’ final 2018 regular-season game for insubordination, and afterward continued trying to force his way out, despite being under contract.
The Steelers, weary of his antics, traded him in March to Oakland, where last week, after a chaotic six months, he engineered his exit from that team, too.
On a 53-man roster, not all players are treated the same. The more talented a player, the more leeway he generally has. But every franchise has its threshold for lenience and embarrassment, and two in the last six months reached theirs with Brown.
Now it is New England’s turn to manage him, and under Coach Bill Belichick the Patriots have demonstrated a profound enthusiasm for acquiring players whose behavior warded off other teams. The Patriots do so, again and again, because they are confident that their structure and leadership can coax exemplary sportsmanship and meaningful contributions, while also rehabilitating images in need of repair. Those who can conform, who can subjugate their egos for the greater good of the team, will thrive. Those who cannot will not last.
It is far too early to know how Brown will adjust in New England, where he will dress two lockers from quarterback Tom Brady and where the Patriots, as ever, operate in the day-to-day tedium that has taken them to nine Super Bowls, and six championships, in 18 seasons.
The Patriots will function, as they always do, inside the Belichick bunker, where Brown has landed, willfully, and gained yet another opportunity because of his aptitude for catching a ball and running with it: a one-year deal with what might be the best team in football.
Over the weekend, when news broke that Brown would be signing with New England, he posted six times to Instagram. His last message, fired off maybe 48 hours before the lawsuit was filed, reads: “FIGHT FOR WHAT YOU KNOW IS RIGHT.” It was liked more than 220,000 times.