Antonio Brown finally released by Bucs after going on the offensive, but Bruce Arians says blowup was never about an injury

  • Antonio Brown released a lengthy statement accusing the Buccaneers of pushing him to play hurt.
  • Brown also shared an image that appeared to show texts between him and head coach Bruce Arians.
  • The Buccaneers are reportedly set to finally release Brown on Thursday.

Antonio Brown is no longer a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.

On Thursday, after a few curious days of waiting, the Buccaneers finally released Brown in the wake of his outburst on Sunday, which saw him rip off his pads and walk off the field during the middle of a game against the New York Jets.

Brown’s ultimate release was preceded by a second outburst, this time in the form of a lengthy statement put out via his attorney Sean Burstyn on Wednesday night. Brown accused the Buccaneers of pushing him to play despite suffering an ankle injury.

“Because of my commitment to the game, I relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured,” Brown said. “Despite the pain, I suited up. The staff injected me with what I now know was a powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using, and I gave it my all for the team.”

The statement continued:

“I played until it was clear that I could not use my ankle to safely perform my playing responsibilities. On top of that, the pain was extreme. I took a seat on the sideline and my coach came up. to me, very upset, and shouted “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with you?” I told him, “It’s my ankle.” But he knew that. It was well-documented and we had discussed it. He then ordered me to get on the field. I said, “Coach I can’t.” He didn’t call for medical attention. Instead, he shouted at me, “YOU’RE DONE!” while he ran his finger across his throat. Coach was telling me that if I didn’t play hurt, then I was done with the Bucs.”

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Brown went on to accuse the Buccaneers of taking part in an “ongoing cover-up” and said that an MRI he took on Monday without the team’s notice showed that he had “broken bone fragments stuck in my ankle.”

The team contradicts Brown’s story

Upon releasing Brown on Thursday, the Buccaneers put out a statement contradicting Brown’s telling of events.

“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 before the start of the game, and at no point during the game did he indicate to our medical personnel that he could not play,” the statement read.

“We have attempted, multiple times through this week, to schedule an evaluation by an outside orthopedic specialist, yet Antonio has not complied.”

In addition to his statement, on Thursday morning Brown also posted a text exchange between himself and Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, in which Arians told Brown to be ready to play.

It’s unclear what Brown thinks the text exchange would potentially prove. Like the Buccaneers said in their statement, there is no doubt that Brown was dealing with an ankle injury heading into Sunday’s game — he was listed on the team’s injury report and sat out practice during the week.

Arians says Brown complained about how he was being used before outburst

What is still in contention is whether Brown expressed that he was too injured to go on during the game. Brown says that he did, while the Buccaneers say that he didn’t.

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Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Arians said that Brown did not bring up his ankle injury while he refused to enter the game but had instead been complaining about his targets at halftime.

“In that game, he never asked a trainer or a doctor about his ankle,” Arians said. “That’s the normal protocol. You go through protocols during games. I was never notified of it.

“He was very upset at halftime about who was getting targeted. Got that calmed down — players took care of that. It started again on the sideline. We called for the personnel group that he had played in the entire game. He refused to go in the game.”

Arians said he then went over to talk with Brown, who told him he refused to play because he wasn’t getting the ball.

“That’s when I said, ‘You’re done, get the F out of here,'” Arians said. Asked about Brown’s accusation of making a throat-slashing gesture, Arians pantomimed pointing Brown to the locker room. “That’s all it was,” Arians said.

Brown missed out on $1 million with lack of catches and release

Brown was concerned with his targets due to incentives tied to his contract. Brown was just a few catches away from cashing in three incentives for a total of $1 million in bonus money when he left the Buccaneers sideline.

Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Brown requested the previous week that the remaining incentive money left on his contract be guaranteed. The team declined the request.

Brown’s breakup with the Buccaneers was messy, as was his breakup with the Steelers, Raiders, and Patriots. But even after leaving four franchises in such a fractious fashion, Brown believes that he has another NFL stint left in him next year.

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“I’ll be back 100% and looking forward to next season,” Brown’s statement concluded. “Business gonna be BOOMIN!”

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