When the news broke that Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown was facing allegations of rape and sexual assault, the immediate response was "who knew about this situation?" This was expected considering that the allegations had been rumored over the weekend, which was when the Oakland Raiders cut the receiver and saw him sign with the Patriots. Did head coach Jon Gruden know about this potential lawsuit before cutting the veteran receiver?
As it turns out, Gruden didn't appear to be aware of any potential allegations. He said as much during a very brief interaction in Wednesday's media availability. A reporter asked the Raiders head coach about the lawsuit, and he simply responded by saying "I'm not aware of anything. If you want to ask about him, you can call his employer." Translation: It's not his problem now that Brown is on the Patriots roster.
It would be expected that Gruden is tired of answering questions about the former Raiders receiver. After all, he fielded questions about Brown during every single press conference since March's trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Some questions revolved around the playmaking ability of Brown while others focused on the frostbitten feet, helmet grievances, or other drama. At this point, Gruden is simply over answering those questions and wants to focus on the players that are actually on the roster.
"What happened here the last couple days may have been, you know, big news to some, but there were no distractions," Gruden told NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday night. "I think you could tell that tonight, our team was ready to roll.
"I’m never going to bring it up again. That incident, whatever you call it, had nothing to do with our team’s focus or preparation. That’s it. End of story."
To Gruden's point, the Raiders were fired up and ready to win on Monday night. Both the offense and defense performed exceptionally during a 24-16 victory over the rival Denver Broncos, and the passing attack was did not need Brown. Quarterback Derek Carr routinely found receiver Tyrell Williams and tight end Darren Waller for big plays against the Broncos defense, and he proved to be effective in primetime.
Unfortunately for the Raiders head coach, simply saying that he was no longer going to bring up the incident doesn't mean that he is free and clear from the questions. The local reporters will continue to ask him about Antonio Brown as much as possible, especially if more negative stories come to light. The Raiders roster may be free of the headache, but this albatross will continue to hang around Gruden's neck for the rest of the season.