By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
If Antonio Brown knew that a civil lawsuit was coming his way, he clearly failed to inform the Patriots, as the team was reportedly 'caught by surprise' when the news of the rape accusations against Brown came down on Tuesday night.
The Patriots were caught by surprise, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter, and the team will have to decide how to proceed with Brown, who was scheduled for his first practice with New England on Wednesday. One possibility is that Roger Goodell will place Brown on the commissioner's exempt list, sources said, which would mean Brown will not be counted on the Patriots' active list while the league investigates the allegations.
All signs would undoubtedly point to the Patriots not knowing about this lawsuit, too, as the team traded veteran wide receiver Demaryius Thomas to the Jets in exchange for a 2021 sixth-round pick on Tuesday, leaving them one wideout short after officially adding the 31-year-old Brown to the roster on Monday night.
While it's currently unclear what the Patriots will do in the wake of this news, the Patriots did confirm that the league will investigate the accusation against Brown in their statement issued just before midnight on Tuesday.
“We are aware of the civil lawsuit that was filed earlier today against Antonio Brown, as well as the response by Antonio’s representatives," the team's official statement read. "We take these allegations very seriously. Under no circumstance does this organization condone sexual violence or assault. The league has informed us that they will be investigating. We will have no further comment while that investigation takes place.”
The Patriots are scheduled to practice at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. Whether or not Brown, who has been in town since Sunday morning, is indeed part of that practice as originally planned, however, is unknown.