Report: Antonio Brown Felt He Was Too Injured to Return To Play for Bucs vs. JetsJanuary 3, 2022
Antonio Brown reportedly felt he was too injured to return to Sunday's game against the New York Jets, leading to the bizarre end to his tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Brown, who has been limited in practice and missed several weeks with an ankle injury, argued with Bruce Arians and the Bucs' offensive staff over his health and refused to re-enter the game.
"What he told the staff, from what I understand, is that he was not going into the game because, in his mind, he did not feel he was healthy," Rapoport said. "The response then from the offensive coaches and from Bruce Arians was, 'If you are not gonna go into the game when we tell you to go into the game, then you cannot be here.' At that point, they threw him off the sidelines and then cut him from the team."
Antonio Brown has a meltdown at the hand of the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Jets?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Jets</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BraxtonBerrios?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BraxtonBerrios</a> <a href="https://t.co/RGhSYpyrOu">pic.twitter.com/RGhSYpyrOu</a>
Brown stripped off his uniform on the sidelines, tossed his undershirt into the crowd and then proceeded to walk to the locker room, cutting through the field as the Bucs and Jets were lining up for a play. It was a wild ending to a tenure fraught with controversy since Brown's arrival in Tampa.
"He is no longer a Buc," Arians told reporters after the game. "That's the end of the story."
Arians later told Peter King of NBC Sports that the situation was "a shame" and he feels bad for Brown, who "can't help himself." Teammate Mike Evans tried stopping the outburst before Brown took it too far but was unsuccessful.
"He had that look in his eye that I haven't seen for a long time," Arians said of Brown.
The Bucs' decision to bring in Brown ahead of the 2020 season was seen as controversial after the wideout was accused of rape, assaulted and robbed a delivery truck driver and had the police called to his home on several occasions in 2019 and early 2020. The NFL suspended Brown for the first eight games of the 2020 season for his off-field conduct.
When he returned to the field, he excelled as part of a Super Bowl-winning Bucs offense and drew praise for keeping out of trouble. The good times didn't last long, with Brown drawing a three-game suspension for faking his COVID-19 vaccination card this season. Arians defended Brown amid the criticism, all but admitting Brown's skills on the field earned him yet another chance, while the wideout deflected blame onto the media.
While Brown's attempts at deflection were always in bad faith, it seems publicly showing up Arians was the final straw—and potentially the final act of his NFL career. Brown's story has gone from one of determination and hard work, becoming a seven-time Pro Bowler after being a sixth-round pick in 2010, to a cautionary tale.