The new year got off to a bizarre start for the Buccaneers on Sunday when Antonio Brown decided to ditch the team during the third quarter of their 28-24 win over the Jets.
After a spat with coach Bruce Arians, Brown took off his helmet, his shoulder pads and his undershirt and then stormed off the field shirtless. Although Brown has been active on social media over the past 24 hours, one thing he has yet to reveal is why he left the field. However, NFL.com did offer some clarity on the situation Monday.
According to the league's official website, Brown felt he was too injured to play so he refused to go in the game when Arians asked him to. Going into Week 17, Brown had been dealing with an ankle injury that kept him out of practice on both Thursday and Friday. The same ankle injury had also caused him to miss multiple games this year.
By the time the third quarter rolled around, Brown apparently felt that he couldn't help the team and that it wouldn't do any good to put him in the game. Brown's decision clearly didn't sit well with Arians, who told him to "Get out" after the receiver twice refused to enter the game.
On Tuesday, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Brown's friends were worried about the pain he was experiencing in his ankle. The wideout visited a "top surgeon" outside of the Buccaneers organization, and an MRI confirmed he was dealing with a painful issue. According to Stroud, the belief is that while Brown is known to have a "high pain threshold," he probably shouldn't have been playing Sunday. Stroud also notes that a statement from Brown's camp is expected to come soon.
Following Tampa Bay's win, Arians was asked if Brown's ankle played a role in the bizarre situation and he emphatically said "no," according to ESPN.com. Although quitting on your team in the middle of a game is a horrible look for Brown, it will also be a bad look for Arians if it turns out that Brown's version of events is true. If Brown was too injured to play, then Arians shouldn't have continuously asked him to go into the game. However, Arians continued to insist on Monday that Brown never mentioned the injury as a reason why he couldn't return to the game.
Bruce Arians, talking today with reporters on Antonio Brown, says he didn't tell coaches he was injured, said they had a conversation, and Brown left the field. Not a lot of detail still, but insists Brown made decision to leave the field.— Greg Auman (@gregauman) January 3, 2022
Before his exit, Brown caught three passes for 26 yards.
If you missed Brown leaving the field, here's what it looked like:
After Brown left the field, things only got more bizarre. Here's a look at what happened in the immediate aftermath of his exit:
- Brown confuses security. After Brown entered the tunnel, a security guard at MetLife Stadium thought he was a fan who had run on the field, according to ESPN.com. The receiver apparently asked for a ride to the airport, but security said no because Brown "was shirtless and didn't have his wallet."
- Brown gets a cab out of the stadium. After he was unable to get a ride from security, Brown had a well-known chauffeur pick him up from the stadium and you can see video of that by clicking here.
- Brown releases a rap video. The receiver took advantage of all the publicity that came his way on Sunday by releasing a rap song. If, for some reason, you want to know whether Brown can rap, you can listen to the song by clicking here.
- Brown basically set $1 million on fire. By quitting on the team, Brown won't be able to earn $1 million in bonus money that he almost certainly would have been able to earn if he would have played out the season. According to Spotrac, Brown needed just eight more catches to earn a $333,333 bonus. He also only needed 55 receiving yards to earn another $333,333 and one TD to earn another $333,333. That's $999,999 in bonus money that he won't be getting due to his outburst.
- Tom Brady calls for compassion. The Buccaneers QB was asked about the situation after the game and he said that people should look to help Brown in any way they can, "I think everybody should hopefully do what they can to help him in ways that he really needs it." For more on what Brady had to say, be sure to click here.
Once Brown is released by the Buccaneers, he'll technically be free to sign with anyone, but even the release has come with some drama. Despite Arians saying after the game that the Buccaneers would be cutting Brown, the team still hadn't officially made the move as of the end of the NFL business day on Monday.