By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Antonio Brown's apparent texts to a woman who accused him of sexual misconduct changed a lot of things for the now-unemployed wide receiver.
The accuser can look into possible criminal intimidation charges with no fear of statute of limitation issues. And thus, the NFL may have had an opportunity to place him on the commissioner's exempt list. The league also possibly had enough to warrant suspending him indefinitely under the Personal Conduct Policy.
But for the Patriots, the most important change was that Brown committed a troublesome act while wearing their uniform. He dragged a lot of outside noise into Gillette Stadium when he signed 11 days ago, but now he's created fresh noise under their watch.
When that happens, it's time to say goodbye.
Many in the last two weeks pointed to the Patriots' employment of Aaron Hernandez that they will look past any act to field a good football player. But what those people seem to forget is that the Patriots released Hernandez pretty much simultaneously as police took him out of his house in handcuffs before charging him with murder. They took swift and decisive action with a person who was, at best, a questionable character at the time. The same principle applies to Brown, who is accused of rape, sexual misconduct, and unpaid wages from numerous accusers in recent weeks.
Past behavior was a storm the Patriots possibly could have weathered. And for a week, it looked like they could. Brown said he's "just here to focus on ball" in his first, last, and only meeting with reporters on Thursday. Now we know he made that statement a day after sending those texts, which his accuser felt were "intimidating" in nature.
A new storm is not worth braving for the Patriots. And so here we are.
The Patriots said in a statement announcing Brown's release: "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." Translation: he was not worth the noise, the extra hours, the media circus, the needless questions to his teammates.
They never needed this guy in order to win Super Bowl LIV, and now they will march toward a possible seventh Lombardi Trophy without him. That's great news for fans of Phillip Dorsett, who has looked like arguably the team's most reliable receiver through two games. It's even better news for Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski, who made the team through their own hard work and not just their god-given talent, which was the only factor that made Brown such an irresistible gamble for Bill Belichick.
In the end, the Patriots decided it's best to push away from the table now. A new report from Adam Schefter indicates that the league will continue to look into Brown's behavior and it's possible that he won't sign with another team this year, maybe ever.
After seeing that the Antonio Brown Experience was too much even for the Patriots to bother handling, it's doubtful that another team feels they could.
Now that the circus is out of town, the Patriots can get back to focusing on winning a lot of football games. They were anyway, and never needed Brown to accomplish that in the first place.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].