The first installment of Antonio Brown's $9M signing bonus must be paid by Monday.
If the Patriots haven't already coughed up the $5M they agreed to give Brown when they officially signed him on September 9, news that broke Thursday night of Brown sending threatening text messages this week to a woman should give them pause about cutting that check.
If the Patriots have paid it, it will likely take some wrangling to get it back if the team ultimately decides to follow the lead of Nike and helmet manufacturer Xenith and get out of the Antonio Brown business by releasing him.
Brown's tenure with the Patriots has been an unmitigated PR disaster not nearly outweighed by the four catches for 56 yards he had in last week's 43-0 win over Miami.
When it was just unpaid bills for services rendered, ill-advised Facebook Live content, going 100 in a 45, showing up late or not at all for events, launching furniture from the upper floors of his condo, frozen feet, an uncomfortable helmet, calling the Raiders GM a cracker and persistent social media drama, it was all fun-and-games and the Patriots were happy to hold their nose because the football he played was so, so good.
Fifteen days later, not so much. The civil lawsuit filed alleging two instances of sexual assault and one instance of rape led NFL investigators to interview Brown's alleged victim for 10 hours on Monday.
Less than 48 hours later on Wednesday night, Brown went back at a woman who said Brown approached her naked aside from a facecloth on his genitals while she was working on a painting for him. He derided the woman as a "celebrity groupie" on a group text, instructed a henchman to look into her background "to see how broke this girl is", included images of the woman's children on the text chain and said he would be reaching out to the "team" surrounding rapper Meek Mill to try and dig for more on the woman.
Language in Brown's contract says the deal is "null and void" if he "takes any action that materially undermines the public's respect for, or is materially critical of, the Club, the Player's teammates or the Club's ownership, coaches."
Has Brown taken any action that "materially undermines the public's respect for … the Club"? What does "material" mean in this instance? It could also be argued the mere signing of Brown in the first place lowered the public's respect for it.
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Patriots $5M installment of Antonio Brown's signing bonus due Monday originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston