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Schefter: Antonio Brown's Future in Doubt 'When You Talk to People Around the League'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 8, 2022

Elsa/Getty Images

Free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown reportedly may have played his last game in the NFL following his release from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week.

Appearing Saturday on SportsCenter, ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter said the following: "You can believe his side. You can believe the Buccaneers' side. The fact of the matter is there's a lot of history that's been built up here. When you talk to people around the league, they expressed doubt that he will get another chance in the league."

During the Bucs' 28-24 win over the New York Jets in Week 17, Brown took off his jersey, undershirt and gloves on the sideline and left through the tunnel. He was cut by the team the following week.

Brown released a statement Wednesday explaining his side of what happened during last week's game:

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>

The 33-year-old Brown said he was pressured into playing against the Jets by head coach Bruce Arians despite being in a significant amount of pain due to an ankle injury.

Brown also wrote that he was injected with a "powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using" prior to the game.

Additionally, Brown said Arians told him to leave when he said he was experiencing too much pain from the injury to continue.

When addressing the media after the game, Arians said Brown was "no longer a Buc" and later said Brown had never told him or other coaches that he was injured.

Brown called Arians' claim "100 percent inaccurate" and posted a screenshot of a text conversation he had with Arians leading up to the game on Twitter:

AB @AB84

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

Upon officially releasing Brown on Thursday, the Buccaneers released the following statement:

"While Antonio did receive treatment on his ankle and was listed on the injury report the week leading up to last Sunday's game, he was cleared to play by our medical team prior to the start of the game and at no point during the game did he indicate to our medical personnel that he could not play.

"We have attempted, multiple times throughout this week, to schedule an evaluation by an outside orthopedic specialist, yet Antonio has not complied. Maintaining the health and wellness of our players is of the utmost importance to our organization."

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter and Jenna Laine, Arians suggested Brown being unhappy about a lack of targets during the Jets game may have contributed to his decision to leave.

Brown has had no shortage of issues surrounding him in recent years, dating back to his departure from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019. Brown was inactive for the final game of the 2018 season after reportedly skipping practices leading up to the game.

He was subsequently traded to the Oakland Raiders but never appeared in a game for the team, as he was released after having issues with general manager Mike Mayock.

Brown appeared in one game for the New England Patriots in 2019, but he was released while facing three allegations of sexual assault from former personal trainer Britney Taylor, including one allegation Brown had raped her. Brown later reached a settlement with Taylor.

After helping the Bucs win a Super Bowl last season and playing well to start this season, Brown was suspended three games by the NFL for misrepresenting his COVID-19 vaccination status after it was alleged that he attempted to use a fake vaccine card.

If Brown does get another NFL opportunity, it will be due to his on-field production, as he is among the best wideouts of his era with seven Pro Bowl nods and four first-team All-Pro selections.

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