Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown erupted in frustration on the visitors sideline at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, leaving the field in the third quarter with coach Bruce Arians proclaiming after the game that he is no longer a member of the team.
“He is no longer a Buc,” Arians said after the Buccaneers’ 28-24 victory over the New York Jets. “That’s the end of the story. Let’s talk about the guys that went out there and won the game.”
When asked for more details on what led to Brown’s departure, Arians said, “I’m not talking about him. He’s no longer part of the Bucs.”
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A source told ESPN that Brown was not benched. “He quit,” the source said. Brown did not fly home on the team charter, according to another source.
Teammates Mike Evans and O.J. Howard attempted to calm Brown, who took off his jersey, pads and undershirt, throwing his shirt and gloves into the stands. He then dashed across the end zone while both teams were on the field and waved to fans as he went to the locker room.
MetLife Stadium security told ESPN that at first, they thought Brown was a fan who leaped onto the field.
“We thought he was a jumper,” one security officer said, adding that as Brown went through the tunnel, he asked state troopers for a ride to the airport, but they told him, “No.”
“He was shirtless and didn’t have his wallet,” the security officer said, adding that Brown changed in the locker room and was able to get alternate transportation to the airport.
Arians told Fox Sports after the game that he was trying to get Brown to go into the game, and Brown refused, twice, as Arians told him to “get out.” Arians added to Fox Sports regarding Brown’s taking off his equipment: “Never seen anything like that in all my years.”
Arians added to ESPN that he “didn’t know why” Brown didn’t want to go in. When asked if Brown’s ankle may have played a role in his refusal to play — he was officially questionable for the game due to the injury — Arians said, “No.”
Antonio Brown Timeline — Last 3 Years
Dec. 2018: Deactivated for Steelers’ Week 17 game after reportedly throwing a ball at a teammate in practice
Feb. 2019: Meets with Steelers owner Art Rooney II, says both sides agree to move on
March 2019: Traded by Steelers to Raiders for 3rd- and 5th-round picks
July 2019: Placed on non-football injury list (frostbite on feet from cryotherapy)
Aug. 2019: Missed Raiders training camp practices due to helmet grievances
Sept. 7, 2019: Released from Raiders after Instagram post asking for his release
Sept. 9, 2019: Signed 1-year deal worth up to $15M with Patriots
Sept. 10-16, 2019: Ex-trainer Britney Taylor accuses Brown of sexual assault. Sports Illustrated reports 2nd incident of sexual misconduct
Sept. 20, 2019: Released by Patriots
Jan. 22, 2020: Charged with felony burglary with battery and 2 misdemeanors for incident with moving truck company. Pleaded no contest and did not receive jail time
July 31, 2020: Suspended 8 games for multiple violations of NFL’s personal conduct policy
Oct. 27, 2020: Signed 1-year contract with Buccaneers
Feb. 7, 2021: Caught 5 passes, including a TD, as the Buccaneers won Super Bowl LV
May 25, 2021: Re-signed with Buccaneers
Dec. 2, 2021: Suspended 3 games for violating NFL-NFPA COVID-19 protocols. The league and players’ union found that Brown was among three players who misrepresented their vaccination statuses
Jan. 2, 2022: Took equipment off and runs off field during game at Jets. Coach Bruce Arians said “he is no longer a Buc”
At that point in the game, the Bucs were down 24-10, but they captured the lead with 21 seconds to go when quarterback Tom Brady heaved a 33-yard pass to wide receiver Cyril Grayson for a touchdown.
Brady called it a “difficult situation” with Brown. He was not notified of Brown’s dismissal until after the game.
It’s also the latest misstep for Brown. Last week, he returned to the Bucs after a three-game suspension by the NFL for turning in a fake vaccination card. He caught 10 passes for 101 receiving yards and accused the media of “creating drama.”
“We all love him. We care about him deeply. We want to see him be at his best. Unfortunately it won’t be with our team,” Brady said, adding that he will continue his friendship with Brown, and would encourage those around him to help him.
“I think everyone should be very compassionate and empathetic toward some very difficult things that are happening,” Brady said.
Running back Le’Veon Bell, who just signed with the Bucs and was Brown’s teammate with the Pittsburgh Steelers, echoed Brady’s comments.
“I found out when we got into the locker room at the end of the game,” Bell said. “I instantly sent him a text, to try to catch up with him real quick. Obviously he texted me back and I talked to him. He’s still one of my close friends. Like you won’t hear me talking bad about AB at all. Obviously I understand, things happen, but he’s one of my closest friends I’ve been around, a close teammate, overall a good person. Some bad decision-making at times, but he’s human, not perfect, and we’ll continue to move on without him and keep moving forward.
“It’s tough. Obviously when I came over here, I was happy to be reunited with him. Unfortunately it was only two games, but at the end of the day, I wish the best for him outside of football or whatever’s next for him.”
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