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Released By New England, Antonio Brown Tweets He's Leaving The NFL

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Antonio Brown says he is done playing in the NFL. He announced it in a tweet yesterday. The free-agent wide receiver was released from two separate teams this month, the Oakland Raiders and then the New England Patriots. Brown is being investigated by the NFL for rape as well as other accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior. Additionally, a lawsuit alleges that he also intimidated one of his accusers. We're going to go now to Jesse Washington. He's a senior writer at The Undefeated. Thanks so much for being with us, Jesse.

JESSE WASHINGTON: Thank you.

MARTIN: We should just note you were the reporter who uncovered - who broke the story initially about the allegations against Antonio Brown. What do you make of this, that he says he's no longer going to play in the NFL?

WASHINGTON: Well, just to be clear, I wrote a year ago about the allegations of his troubling behavior, and SI broke this story recently with the women. I think that this is a part of a longtime pattern that I uncovered in my reporting and that had been ignored in the face of his spectacular production on the field. But this is a person who has - for some years now has had a lot of trouble just relating to people and living a normal life without problems, without blowups, without sending threatening messages to people, without very problematic relationships. And now it's all coming to a head.

MARTIN: He actually personally attacked you verbally after your reporting, didn't he?

WASHINGTON: That's correct. He did tweet a threat at me when my story came out. But at that time, he was - he had been really given a pass for all of his behavior. And, really, what I found in my reporting then and also in a recent piece that I did is that he has not been held accountable at all for any of his actions, and he always plays the victim role.

And I know that that's a charged phrase in our political landscape, but what I mean by that is that Antonio Brown causes problems for himself and then says that he's being victimized by other people. And most recently, he has tweeted out that he was victimized by these owners who are - don't want him on their team, and they're not being fair to him. So it's time for him to really kind of get back to reality and understand what's really going on.

MARTIN: So what is his future? I mean, the investigations that the NFL has launched, they're not over yet, right? Nothing has been concluded. And there are no...

WASHINGTON: That's correct.

MARTIN: ...Criminal charges against him right now.

WASHINGTON: There have been no criminal charges yet. And it is important to note that Britney Taylor, the woman who accused him of sexual assault, is not pursuing a criminal case. That is a civil case. So that's important to know. However, his future is once the NFL concludes what his punishment will be - and it's not going to be a lifetime ban, in all likelihood - once that happens, somebody will want to sign him. And he will be back on the field because he is that good. This is one of the best pass catchers to ever play football. And we've seen time and time again in the NFL that talent trumps everything else.

MARTIN: The NFL has long been criticized for how it handles players who've been accused of sexual assault or domestic violence. Does the Antonio Brown episode tell us - I mean, how is the NFL changing how it thinks about these things?

WASHINGTON: I don't think that the NFL changes how it - is changing how it thinks about these things. Antonio Brown played in week one with these allegations still out there. And so the NFL is about entertainment, about money and about winning. And that's what he brings to the table.

MARTIN: Jesse Washington of The Undefeated, we appreciate your analysis of this. Thanks so much.

WASHINGTON: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF BETOKO, KASTIS TORRAU'S "DOSYA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.