antonio brown, robert kraft
The New England Patriots released controversial wide receiver Antonio Brown amid sexual assault allegations. Meanwhile, their owner remains. | Credit: (i) AFP (ii) AP Photo / Chris O’Meara; Edited by CCN

Antonio Brown is a handful. Nobody is denying that. He’s potentially much more than that. Fresh off sexual assault allegations, the New England Patriots released the contentious wide receiver this morning. They released a statement saying:

“The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown. We appreciate the hard work of many people over the last 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time.”

Meanwhile, Patriots owner Bob Kraft, who faces his own sex crime charges of soliciting prostitution, is still sitting comfortably in his owner’s box. The NFL and the Patriots have done nothing.

To be clear, the two are obviously in different positions of power. The Patriots can release Brown because he’s just a player. Bob Kraft owns the team; nobody can release him except the NFL, or maybe himself. And both have been equally quiet on that front.

Antonio Brown’s Final Straw

The Patriots, who are well-known for taking on troublesome players, have finally had it with Brown. The former Pittsburgh Steeler was accused of sending threatening text messages to one of the two women accusing him of sexual assault. The Patriots, who stayed with him and even let him play a game after the allegations surfaced, apparently could not look past this latest mishap.

I’m not saying that they should’ve kept him. It’s well within their right to let go of a team member facing such serious charges. The problem is that their owner is wrapped up in his own sex charges and he’s been relatively unbothered.

The NFL and Bob Kraft

Kraft was charged with soliciting sex prostitution at a Florida spa in February. An investigation found that women were being kept in “sexual servitude” at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, where Kraft was caught.

The NFL and its commissioner Roger Goodell have yet to take any disciplinary action, which seems to contradict their policies. In 2014, they updated their personal conduct policy to say:

“We must endeavor at all times to be people of high character; we must show respect for others inside and outside our workplace; and we must strive to conduct ourselves in ways that favorably reflect on ourselves, our teams, the communities we represent, and the NFL.”


“In order to uphold our high standards, when violations of this Personal Conduct Policy do occur, appropriate disciplinary action must follow.”

They also claim to hold “owners, coaches, players, other team employees” and more to the same standards. To be fair, Antonio Brown’s threatening texts provided actual proof that, at the very least, he has a questionable character. It’s not like Kraft has, I don’t know, video proof of him engaging in sex crimes just floating around…

If nothing else, the dichotomy is just another reminder that sports execs are playing an entirely different game than the players. We saw this in NBA when former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling got away with years of racist behavior before finally getting pushed out. In this case, both men are facing very serious allegations. Both men have denied culpability. And neither has been found guilty in a court of law. But only one of them is out of a job. It seems like the NFL needs another policy update. 

This article was edited by Gerelyn Terzo.

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