NFLPA Plans to Investigate Antonio Brown's Allegations Against Buccaneers After Exit

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 6, 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 NFL Players Association anticipates investigating the circumstances that surrounded wide receiver Antonio Brown's departure from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

According to Mike Jones of USA Today, NFLPA spokesperson George Atallah said that while Brown has yet to reach out to the NFLPA, the plan is to follow "standard operating procedure" by investigating Brown's claims of medical mismanagement.

Brown ripped off his jersey and left the field during Sunday's game between the Bucs and New York Jets. Brown later alleged that Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians cut him from the team on the sidelines when he refused to go into the game because he had an ankle injury.

In a statement released by Brown on Wednesday, he said he was pressured into playing against the Jets by Arians despite being in a significant amount of pain:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Antonio Brown released a statement telling his side of the story in the Bucs saga.<br><br>He said Bruce Arians tried to make him play through an ankle injury.<a href="https://t.co/u7qizq3iyM">https://t.co/u7qizq3iyM</a> <a href="https://t.co/rLmUYhxATd">pic.twitter.com/rLmUYhxATd</a>

Brown wrote that he was injected with a "powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using" during the lead up to the game as well.

The seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro expressed his belief that the Bucs were framing the situation as if he quit on the team, however, he said he was told to leave on the spot by Arians because he refused to enter the game.

Brown also said he underwent an MRI on his ankle Monday, and it showed broken bone fragments, a torn ligament and cartilage loss.

After the Bucs' 28-24 come-from-behind win over the Jets, Arians declined to get into specifics regarding Brown other than to say he was "no longer a Buc."

Arians later said Brown never told him or the other coaches he was injured going into the game.

Brown called Arians' claim "100 percent inaccurate" and later posted screenshots of a text message conversation he said was between him and Arians about his ankle injury in the days prior to the game:

AB @AB84

Health over Wealth # Barbarian <a href="https://t.co/5pxjpZ6491">pic.twitter.com/5pxjpZ6491</a>

The 33-year-old Brown signed with the Buccaneers last season after short stints with the Las Vegas Raiders and New England Patriots. Brown had issues with Raiders GM Mike Mayock that led to his departure, while the Patriots released him following the filing of a civil lawsuit by his former trainer who alleged he sexually assaulted her three times and separate allegations of sexual misconduct and threatening texts made by another woman. 

Brown has dealt with several problems this season. He missed game action because of injury and a positive COVID-19 test, and he was also suspended by the NFL for three games after it determined he used a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.

The former Pittsburgh Steelers star has been highly productive when on the field, however, registering 42 receptions for 545 yards and four touchdowns in seven games this season.

Brown was officially released by the Bucs on Thursday.

With Brown out of the picture and Chris Godwin out for the season with an injury, quarterback Tom Brady figures to lean heavily on wide receiver Mike Evans and tight end Rob Gronkowski, as well as less-heralded wideouts such as Breshad Perriman, Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson and Cyril Grayson during the playoffs.