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Patriots will eventually have to decide on Brown’s future

AP photo Antonio Brown practiced with the Patriots on Wednesday despite the allegations of sexual assault in a civil lawsuit.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s brief press conference was the perfect mirrror image to Antonio Brown’s time as a Patriot without controversey.

In other words, not long. Not long at all.

But what will the fallout of this latest Brown fiasco be? The possible – but we think unlikely — next step would be Brown’s placement on the National Football League’s Commissioner’s Exempt list. If on that Brown still gets paid, can attend meetings with the team and workouts, but can’t practice or play.

It’s unlikely it will happen soon, as the league has reportedly just begun its investigation into Brown’s accuser, Britney Taylor’s detailed lawsuit.

How about just a simple release? That’s always possible for the Patriots, who if they want to avoid the guaranteed dollars they have to pay Brown by this Monday, could attempt to possibly invoke a reported clause in the contract that says Brown forfeits his guaranteed money if, in part, he “takes any action that materially undermines the public’s respect for, or is materially critical of, the Club…”

It’s the “public’s respect” phrase that could be key, one would think. But the Patriots have already had incidents that would impact the public’s respect. The owner, Robert Kraft, is still facing misdemeanor charges in Florida for prostitution soliciation. Safety Patrick Chung is facing charges of cocaine possession right in our own backyard, in Meredith. They have a five-time suspended player, Josh Gordon, as one of their top receivers.

Ouch.

You have to be careful, as in today’s world social media floods the world with truths, semi-truths, and downright falsehoods. It’s a mess that has a lot of miscommunication attached. For example, early Wednesday afternoon it was erroneously reported that the Allegheny County (Pa.) District Attorney Stephen Zappala announced Wednesday his office was going to the sexual assault allegations against Brown currently in the civil lawsuit.

That would have expedited Brown’s possible landing spot on the Exempt List as it would have become a possible criminal matter, but instead the DA was speaking about a child endangerment accusation levied at Brown. It involved the DA’s office saying it had a conversation with the Northern Regional Police Department, but that “the result of that conversation was a decision that we could not move forward with investigating that claim.”

Really, why even make such an announcement? The DA’s office confirmed that the Northern Regional Police nor the DA were ever contacted concerning the civil sexual assault complaint.

It may add to Brown’s awful reputation, but the Patriots already knew what a monumental pain they were signing, gambling they could handle him.

Really, unless they were going to release him, the Patriots had no choice but to allow Brown to practice on Wednesday, because the NFL Players Association would be on them in an instant for keeping a player off the field for a civil, not criminal, complaint. And, furthermore, there are reportedly no examples of a player being placed on the Exempt List due to just a civil matter.

What did the Patriots know and when did they know it? It really seems they had no idea this was going to happen, either per their due diligence before signing the player or sheer negligence of not asking Brown’s agent if there were any surprises in the offing. And making them look worse, it seems Rosenhaus knew trouble was brewing.

“Antonio and I had been anticipating this possibility,” Rosenhaus said in an ESPN interview on Wednesday.

Double ouch.

If that’s the case, that brings back that Animal House line “You bleeped up. You trusted us.”

“Please allow the situation to play itself out,” Rosenhaus said.

The agent would not reveal any discussions he has had with the Patriots about Brown, so the jury, no pun intended, is still out as to who knew what when,etc. The NFL, by all accounts, did not know of this lawsuit until the reports of its filing came out Tuesday night.

Belichick wasn’t going to say anything of substance on Wednesday, and since no one wanted to hear about his thoughts on Miami, he exited stage left.

But he did say a few small key things. The Patriots have to be very careful to make sure they are very publicly senstitive to anything involving sexual assault.

“We’ve looked into the situation,” Belichick said. “We’re taking it very seriously all the way through the organization. I’m sure there are questions, but I’m not going to be entering into the discussion about that today. So that’s where we’re at.”

Belichick said the approach with Brown is the same as it was, especially with regard to whether he plays on Sunday, or not.

“We’re taking it one day at a time,” he said. “Just like we always do. … We’re preparing for one day at a time.”

The Miami Dolphins, the team the Patriots will visit on Sunday, apparently are skipping a few days, preparing as if Brown will play on Sunday. We think he will, right or wrong.

“That’s a dynamic player,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. “They’ve got good coaches there. I’m sure they’ll find a way to get him involved in their offense. They can do it a few different ways. I can sit here and think of 100 ways they can do it. Probably drive myself crazy doing that.”

Maybe not as much as Brown as driven everyone crazy for the last few weeks, though, from one end of the NFL country to the other.