The NFL will "seriously consider placing" Patriots WR Antonio Brown on paid leave via the commissioner's exempt list, after he was "accused of rape and sexual assault in a federal lawsuit," according to sources cited by Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. If placed on the exempt list, Brown would be "ineligible to play" for the Patriots. One source said that is "possible" and something the NFL is "going to have to focus on." The league is "investigating the allegations, but it's unclear whether a decision will be made before the Patriots are scheduled to play Sunday." League officials "planned to meet" yesterday about the matter. The NFL "could allow Brown to play for the Patriots while its investigation proceeds and then place him on paid leave if NFL officials believe that is warranted" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/12). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Andrew Beaton cites sources as saying that the "nature of this case presents an unprecedented conundrum." Because the lawsuit filed against Brown has "no indication that the accuser has filed police complaints related to any of the cases," there is "not even a basic investigatory foundation that can be used to begin an internal assessment of the allegations." For years, the NFL has been "rattled by allegations of sexual violence perpetrated by its players and criticism of the league's handling of those issues." But even a "league that has developed broad experience investigating these matters and doling out punishment hasn't handled something quite like this" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/12).
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND: USA TODAY's Christine Brennan writes the NFL should take the lawsuit "seriously enough to stash Brown away somewhere for the time being" while the allegations are investigated (USA TODAY, 9/12). In Toronto, John Kryk writes "shoving Brown out of the spotlight for weeks, or even merciful months, might not only be the right thing for the NFL to do, but it might be the only way the league can make these dismal, destructive, disturbing, dumbfounding, dysenteric doses of daily distractions go away" (TORONTO SUN, 9/12). USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell writes the "risk" for Commissioner Roger Goodell is that if he lets Brown play and the "allegations prove to be true, can you survive the fallout that will also unpack the Ray Rice disaster" from '14? (USA TODAY, 9/12). Meanwhile, in Boston, Christopher Gasper writes if Brown is going to be "removed from the Patriots roster by the Patriots, it’s going to come at the hands of owner Robert Kraft and team president Jonathan Kraft" instead of coach Bill Belichick. The Krafts "value their brand and public opinion" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/12).
CENTER OF ATTENTION, AGAIN: In Providence, Kevin McNamara writes the Patriots "can't avoid the unintended spotlight." McNamara: "Welcome to the Patriot Circus." About a "dozen TV cameras filled the Patriots media room" yesterday for Belichick's scheduled press briefing. After "continued questions about Brown, Belichick asked, 'Anything else on Miami? Any other questions?'" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 9/12).