Michael Reaves/Getty; Michael Hickey/Getty
Antonio Brown will soon, once again, be playing in the NFL.
Over the weekend, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Brown to a one-year contract after the wide receiver was released by the New England Patriots last year amid two separate allegations of sexual misconduct, which his attorney has denied.
On Sunday, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians told reporters that Brown deserved a "second chance" and also disputed speculation that quarterback Tom Brady — who previously played with Brown for the Patriots — had anything to do with his recruitment
"I think he's matured, and I believe in second chances," Arians told reporters Sunday, according to USA Today. "Everybody wants to say that Tom [Brady] picked him. Tom didn't have anything to do with it. This was something [Bucs general manager Jason Licht] and I had been talking (about) for a couple weeks, ever since the injuries to our other guys. When the time was right, would we see if we could pull the trigger and fit him in to what we want to get done? And we'll see. If Antonio does what I think he's gonna do, I think he's gonna be fine."
When asked about Brown's sexual misconduct allegations, Arians said to "let the court system do its job."
"Allegations – I've been around a lot of players that have had allegations that weren't true, some were – so let the court system handle it. If it's found out to be true, he won't be with us," he said.
Arians also told Jay Glazer of FOX that Brown has to “be a team player, or be gone.”
Michael Reaves/Getty Antonio Brown
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Brady also spoke to reporters on Sunday, saying that he thinks Brown is a "tremendous football player" and that he's "looking forward to working with him again."
However, Brown won't be returning to the field just yet, as he still needs to complete the remainder of his eight-game suspension for multiple violations of the NFL's personal conduct policy, issued in part for his expletive-laced tirade aimed at the organization last November. The earliest fans will see Brown play is Nov. 9 against the New Orleans Saints, as long as he also passes COVID-19 testing.
In September 2019, the athlete was accused of raping his former trainer in a federal lawsuit reported by The New York Times.
In the civil lawsuit, his accuser, who identified herself as Britney Taylor, claimed that Brown sexually assaulted her twice during training sessions in June 2017; allegedly exposing himself and kissing her without permission the first time, and masturbating behind her and ejaculating on her back the second.
Taylor also accused Brown of raping her in May 2018. The Times, citing the lawsuit, reported that Brown allegedly apologized to Taylor after gloating over the first two incidents in messages to her.
Brown’s attorney Darren Heitner released a statement at the time denying “each and every allegation,” and said Brown would “pursue all legal remedies” to clear his name and “protect other professional athletes against false accusations.”
The lawsuit is due to go to trial in December, according to NBC Sports.