With Antonio Brown facing accusations of sexual assault stemming from a civil lawsuit that was filed in a Florida court this week, there’s a chance that he could miss multiple games while the NFL investigates the matter. 

According to the Washington Post, the league is considering the possibility of placing Brown on the commissioner’s exempt list. If that were to happen, the Patriots‘ new receiver would be ineligible to play for every week that he’s on the list, although he would still receive a paycheck since the list is considered a form of paid leave. Brown signed a one-year deal worth up to $15 million on Monday. 

For those not familiar with the commissioner’s exempt list, here’s a brief description of it from the NFL Player Personnel Policy Manual.

The Exempt List is a special player status available to clubs only in unusual circumstances. The List includes those players who have been declared by the Commissioner to be temporarily exempt from counting within the Active List limit. Only the Commissioner has the authority to place a player on the Exempt List; clubs have no such authority, and no exemption, regardless of circumstances, is automatic. The Commissioner also has the authority to determine in advance whether a player’s time on the Exempt List will be finite or will continue until the Commissioner deems the exemption should be lifted and the player returned to the Active List.

Basically, it gives Roger Goodell the power to sideline a player without hurting the player’s team during highly unique situations (Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy were both placed on the list in 2014). If Brown were to be placed on the list, he wouldn’t count against the Patriots’ 53-man roster. 

In the lawsuit, Brown is accused of sexually assaulting a female acquaintance, Britney Taylor, on three separate occasions. Although Brown’s legal team has admitted that the two had a sexual relationship, his camp maintains that everything was consensual between Brown and Taylor. 

The league hasn’t yet decided if Brown will be placed on the list, but the Patriots should have a better idea of what’s going to happen at some point over the next 24 hours. League executives are expected to meet on Wednesday at NFL headquarters and there will likely be more clarity on Brown’s situation after that meeting. 

It’s possible Brown could play on Sunday against the Dolphins and then go on the list next week. It’s also possible that Brown won’t be put on the list at all or face any possible punishment until after the league has had a chance to seriously look into things. 

If Brown is placed on the list, he wouldn’t be allowed to attend games or practices, but he would still be permitted to attend meetings and get any medical treatment he might need at the team facility. 

The Patriots announced on Tuesday night that that they wouldn’t be commenting on the Brown situation until the NFL has had a chance to complete its investigation. 

“The league informed us that they will be investigating,” the teams said. “We will have no further comment while that investigation takes place.”

Although Brown hasn’t been hit with any criminal charges and faces no jail time — remember, this is a civil lawsuit — the NFL can still punish him for a potential violation of the league’s personal conduct policy, which means that he could eventually be suspended if the league finds the lawsuit to be credible. 



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