Antonio Brown Says Taking Shirt Off in Bucs Exit 'Wasn't Necessary or Professional'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 11, 2022

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) in action during an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
AP Photo/Rich Schultz

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Antonio Brown struck a somewhat apologetic tone when addressing his abrupt exit from a Week 17 victory over the New York Jets.

In the third quarter, Brown took off his jersey and shoulder pads and left the field:


Antonio Brown ran off the field shirtless after showing some frustration on the sidelines.<a href="https://twitter.com/JenHale504?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JenHale504</a> <a href="https://t.co/Jet6ofnNm2">pic.twitter.com/Jet6ofnNm2</a>

The seven-time Pro Bowler told TMZ Sports the incident "probably wasn't necessary or professional."

Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians wasted little time confirming that Brown had played in his last game with the team. Tampa Bay made it official last Thursday.

Brown subsequently contended he was battling an ankle injury, which became the source of his frustration with Arians and the Bucs. The last straw for him came when Arians instructed him to reenter the Jets game despite the injury:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

A lengthy statement from Antonio Brown, announcing he’s having ankle surgery and giving his side of Sunday: <a href="https://t.co/pPl0X5HQsx">pic.twitter.com/pPl0X5HQsx</a>

He also shared a text message purportedly from his coach:

AB @AB84

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

Arians responded to the claims and said Brown hadn't reached out to the team's doctor or trainer during the game about the injured ankle. He said the star wideout had instead voiced his exasperation with his usage in the passing game:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @Buccaneers

Bruce Arians speaks to the media following the release of Antonio Brown. <a href="https://t.co/HMYir6rhX9">pic.twitter.com/HMYir6rhX9</a>

Brown's attorney, Sean Burstyn, posted a series of tweets Sunday, saying the player's release from the Buccaneers was "an example of underhanded treatment of an injured player."

He argued the franchise's official explanation behind the move—the Bucs were unable to schedule a time for Brown to be evaluated by an outside specialist—was a "dirty trick" to cover for Arians' postgame comments.

Considering Brown's ouster prevented him from potentially earning $2 million in contract incentives, the situation is probably far from over.