(NEW YORK) — The National Football League has put New York Giants kicker Josh Brown on the commissioner’s exempt list as league investigators go through a trove of newly released documents in which the player admitted to abusing his then-wife Molly Brown.
On Friday afternoon Adolpho Birch, NFL senior vice president of Labor Policy & League Affairs, sent a letter to Brown informing him that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had placed him on the exempt list on a “limited and temporary basis” while the league reviews the documents released by the King County (Washington) Police Department.
“Your placement on commissioner exempt does not represent a finding that you have violated the personal conduct policy,” Birch wrote. “Prior to any determination in that respect, you will be given an opportunity to review our investigatory report, meet with the league, and/or present relevant information on your behalf as provided for by the policy.”
Brown may not practice or attend games while on the exempt list but may be present at the club’s facility for meetings, individual workouts, therapy and rehabilitation with the team’s permission, the letter said. Brown will be paid his salary “pursuant to the terms” of his contract, and he may appeal the decision within three days of receiving the letter.
The NFL said it had already conducted its own investigation earlier this year, before these documents came to light, after Brown was arrested and charged with fourth-degree assault in May 2015 following an incident with his ex-wife. The league suspended the Giants kicker for one game for violation of the league’s conduct policy, ESPN reported.
The Giants say they knew about the arrest but still signed him to a two-year, $4 million contract. Josh Brown had previously played for the Cincinnati Bengals, St. Louis Rams and the Seattle Seahawks.
In August, according to ESPN, Giants co-owner John Mara said: “I believe all the facts and circumstances, and we were comfortable with our decision to re-sign him.”
The NFL did not see the documents containing police reports, emails and Josh Brown’s handwritten journal entries until they were made public Wednesday by a local sheriff’s office in Washington. The league said it is reopening its investigation into Josh Brown in light of the documents.
“NFL investigators made repeated attempts — both orally and in writing — to obtain any and all evidence and relevant information in this case from the King County Sheriff’s Office,” the NFL said in a statement Thursday. “Each of those requests was denied and the sheriff’s office declined to provide any of the requested information, which ultimately limited our ability to fully investigate this matter. We concluded our own investigation, more than a year after the initial incident, based on the facts and evidence available to us at the time and after making exhaustive attempts to obtain information in a timely fashion. It is unfortunate that we did not have the benefit or knowledge of these materials at the time.”
King County Sheriff John Urquhart told ABC News that NFL investigators had contacted the law enforcement agency through the public disclosure process twice in writing but did not indicate at the time that they they were with the league. The sheriff’s office provided them with the arrest record, the only public document at the time, without knowing they were giving it to the NFL.
Urquhart said a woman named Deborah Katz called the investigating detective on Josh Brown’s case several times claiming she was an NFL investigator. But the woman offered no proof that she was in fact with the NFL, according to the sheriff’s office, and it couldn’t verify her identity. Urquhart said his office told her they could not provide information on an open and active investigation.
Urquhart told ABC News that if the NFL had written a letter to his department regarding Josh Brown’s case, he would have reached out personally and told the league to tread lightly with Josh Brown based on what was happening in the investigation.
Josh Brown will not be traveling with the Giants to London for their game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, the team announced Thursday afternoon, acknowledging that Josh Brown is “working” on “issues in his life” through therapy and counseling, and that the team remains supportive of his efforts.
“In light of the news reports regarding the documents released by the State of Washington yesterday, we think it makes sense to review this newly disclosed information and to revisit this issue following our trip to London,” the Giants said. “The Giants do not condone any form of domestic violence.”
Mara said in an interview with WFAN on Thursday that he did not want to speculate whether Josh Brown would remain on the team.
The Giants arrived in London on Friday and were faced with more questions about their embattled kicker. During a press conference, the team’s coach Ben McAdoo said he wanted to get “all the facts” before making further comments.
“We’re looking to get as much information as we can to make an informed decision,” McAdoo told reporters in London, adding that the team has not made a final decision on Josh Brown’s future. “We’re not going to turn our back on Josh.”
ABC News’ requests for comment to Josh Brown have not been returned.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning briefly commented on the situation, telling reporters: “I don’t know what went on behind the scenes. All I can do is support my teammates and the organization.”
In March 2013, Josh Brown signed a “Contract for Change” from a counseling and consulting firm in Oregon, saying he would try to set things right with his then-wife. In the contract, he wrote, “I have physically, verbally and emotionally abused my wife Molly.” The contract stated that he “controlled” her by “making her feel less human than me.” Josh Brown also agreed to “journal” at least four times a week as part of the contract.
Molly Brown told police she filed for divorce following Josh Brown’s arrest last year.
In a victim’s statement provided to authorities following Josh Brown’s arrest, Molly Brown said her then-husband became “super angry” because he claimed she had disrespected him and “he’s the man of the house.” She then said that she was afraid that he would hurt her 16-year-old son and that she called 911.
Molly Brown told police that she estimated that Josh Brown had gotten physical with her more than 10 times since their marriage. The victim’s statement, which details several instances in which Josh Brown allegedly lost his temper with her, is among the 165 pages of documents that were released by the King County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday.
The documents also include photos showing a large bruise on Molly Brown’s upper leg and a follow-up report from a King County sheriff’s officer who met with Molly Brown in February. According to the report, Molly Brown told the officer that her former husband had recently convinced her to take the children to Hawaii with him to watch the Pro Bowl, assuring her that she and the kids would have separate hotel rooms. But her ex-husband had allegedly showed up at her hotel room one night, intoxicated and pounding on the door, according to the report.
“Molly refused to let Josh in, and eventually had to call NFL and hotel security. Josh was escorted away from Molly’s room and the NFL ended up having to put Molly and the kids up in a different hotel room where Josh would not know where they were,” the officer stated in the follow-up report.
According to the report, Molly Brown also told the officer that their friends, including other NFL players, were aware of her situation.
“Molly had confided in some different players’ wives who had listened to her and believed her, but once their football player husbands found out, even after the letter Josh had written, the players didn’t believe Josh had done anything wrong. Molly felt the NFL had clearly given the message that no one with in (sic) the NFL was going to do anything to help her,” the officer stated in the report.
The King County Sheriff’s Office and King County prosecutors initially decided to postpone the filing of charges pending further investigation, ESPN reported. As of now, no charges have been filed.
In a statement to ABC News, Molly Brown said the release of this new information has been “very traumatic.”
“The recent exposure of extremely personal and confidential information has been very traumatic not only for myself, but more importantly my children,” Brown said. “At this time I am dedicated to focusing on a positive, loving and safe environment for our family. Please respect our privacy during this time so we may continue to heal and move forward.”
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