Antonio Brown has practiced with his new team, but whether he’ll suit up for the New England Patriots this Sunday — having just been accused of rape — remains to be seen.
The star NFL receiver, signed by the Patriots over the weekend after he fell out with the Oakland Raiders, is accused in a civil lawsuit filed Tuesday of sexually assaulting and raping his former Bible study partner and physical trainer.
Brown, 31, has not been charged with any crime and denies the accusations. The NFL and the Patriots say they are investigating.
Brown practiced with the Patriots on Wednesday. Whether he plays Sunday depends on several factors, including whether the team thinks he’s ready after only a few practices.
There’s also the question of whether the NFL will prevent him from playing while its investigation happens.
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the league is considering putting Brown on its commissioner’s exempt list. A player placed on the exempt list cannot practice or attend games while the league conducts a review.
In a news conference Wednesday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was noncommittal when asked whether the team was preparing to have Brown play this Sunday.
“We are taking it one day at a time, just like we always do,” Belichick said.
When the league uses the exempt list
One recent exempt-list case involved running back Kareem Hunt. The league placed Hunt on the list in November — effectively ending his 2018 season — on the day video surfaced of him shoving and kicking a woman. Ultimately, the NFL suspended Hunt for this year’s first eight regular-season games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Other players, such as Adrian Peterson in 2014, were placed on the exempt list after the league learned they were facing criminal charges.
But if Brown is put on the exempt list, it might be a first. Both Rapoport and CNN legal analyst Laura Coates have said they’re not aware of any player being placed on the list on the basis of accusations made in a civil lawsuit.
Brown’s accuser and her her lawyer, meanwhile, will meet with NFL officials next week, a source with knowledge of the case told CNN.
The Patriots visit the Miami Dolphins for a 1 p.m. ET Sunday game.