Report: Antonio Brown's Ankle Injury Was Source of 'Serious Pain' Prior to Bucs Exit

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 4, 2022

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) walks on the field during an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

The fallout from Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown's midgame exit during his team's 28-24 road win over the New York Jets on Sunday continues following a report Tuesday from Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times regarding the severity of the 33-year-old's ankle injury:

Rick Stroud @NFLSTROUD

Antonio is known for having a high pain threshold but the belief is Antonio probably should've never been on the field to begin with Sunday. And official statement from Brown's camp will be issued soon. They have stayed quiet since Sunday.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Monday morning that Brown refused to go back into the game because of his ankle injury. Rapoport said that Bucs coaches thought he was OK enough to return, and when he did not, they threw him off the sideline.

That reportedly led to Brown taking off his jersey, shoulder pads and shirt before exiting out of a MetLife Stadium tunnel.

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

From <a href="https://twitter.com/gmfb?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GMFB</a>: How and why did <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bucs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bucs</a> WR Antonio Brown end up storming off the field shirtless to end his Tampa Bay career? <a href="https://t.co/nd6xq0xMLp">pic.twitter.com/nd6xq0xMLp</a>

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said Monday that he spoke with Brown before he left the field but that it had nothing to do with an injury.

The Athletic @TheAthletic

"We had a conversation and he left the field."<br><br>Bruce Arians declined to share details of his conversation with Antonio Brown on Sunday when speaking with reporters on Monday, but he did say it had nothing to do with Brown being injured. <a href="https://t.co/d6ThaDXfCg">pic.twitter.com/d6ThaDXfCg</a>

Brown did not practice Thursday or Friday because of the ankle injury.

Arians said earlier this year that Brown had an ankle sprain near his heel.

Officially, the ankle sprain caused him to miss five games, and he was also suspended for an additional three after violating the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols after obtaining a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.

He also missed the Bucs' Sept. 26 game at the Los Angeles Rams after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

After the Jets game, Arians said that Brown is no longer a Buc. However, Brown has not yet been released by the team, and he is still listed on the team's roster.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday that the Bucs are having "ongoing discussions with the NFL about how to move ahead in this situation."

Brown has 42 catches for 545 yards and four touchdowns this season, his second with the Bucs and 12th overall.