Antonio Brown may have crossed the line, as far as the NFL and the Patriots are concerned.
Robert Klemko of SI.com reports that Brown has sent harassing text messages to the unnamed accuser who shared allegations with Klemko regarding Brown’s behavior after Brown hired her to paint a mural at his house.
“I’m on my knees painting the [mural], and he walks up to me butt-ass naked, with a hand cloth covering his [penis] and starts having a conversation with me,” the woman told Klemko. “Unfortunately, I’ve been tried [by men] a lot of times, so I just kept my cool and kept painting. After that, it all ended abruptly.”
Brown reportedly has sent a group text message to the woman, accusing her of fabricating a “bull sh-t” story in an effort to “make up some stuff for money.” He also called her a “super broke girl with a lot of kids,” and he encouraged someone to whom Brown refers as “Eric B” to investigate her in order to “see how broke this girl is.”
Brown also sent a screen shot of an Instagram photo of the woman’s children, adding that the woman is “awfully broke clearly.”
On Thursday night, the woman’s lawyer sent a letter to the NFL explaining that Brown is “intimidating and threatening . . . our client, in violation of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.”
“Our client . . . is understandably frightened by these text messages, which are clearly intended to threaten and intimidate her,” attorney Lisa J. Banks wrote. “While she certainly qualifies as a ‘starving artist,’ she has never approached Mr. Brown, nor will she, about seeking money to compensate her for his sexual misconduct, contrary to his allegations in the text messages.”
Amazingly, Brown’s lawyer was included in the group texts. Darren Heitner tells Klemko that Heitner did not advise Brown to communicate with the woman.
The league responded to the letter within an hour. Investigators will speak to the woman’s lawyers about the situation.
“This sort of intimidation and harassment is the reason victims are often so reluctant to step forward in these cases,” Banks told Klemko. “We have confidence the NFL and the Patriots will step in and end this behavior.”
The Personal Conduct Policy expressly prohibits “[s]talking, harassment, or similar forms of intimidation.” The fact that the behavior has been directed at a woman who has made allegations regarding misconduct makes the situation even worse for Brown. Employers routinely take swift and decisive action against employees who are accused of misconduct and who harass or intimidate those who have made the accusations.
The Patriots, who like any NFL team wouldn’t have signed Brown if they’d known about the sexual assault and rape lawsuit that was filed last week, likewise have not been inclined to terminate the relationship based solely on uncorroborated allegations in a civil action. If Brown sent these messages to a woman who chimed in with her own allegations of misconduct by Brown, that gives the Patriots a much more tangible basis for severing ties with Brown.
Regardless of what the Patriots do, the league can take action against Brown. The aggressive and angry response directed to an accuser could be enough, for example, to cause the Commissioner to believe that Brown “may have violated” the Personal Conduct Policy as to Britney Taylor, justifying immediate placement of Brown on the Commissioner-Exempt list.
However it plays out, Brown apparently has committed yet another serious error of judgment, one that has placed his current employment in real jeopardy.