When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Antonio Brown to a one-year contract, there were questions about head coach Bruce Arians. He had previously shut down the idea of bringing the wide receiver to town but the team ultimately did so anyway. Now Arians has reportedly delivered a very direct message to the newest member of the team.
According to NFL insider Jay Glazer, Arians told Brown to "Be a team player, or be gone." The Buccaneers' head coach is known as someone with a strong personality that can "handle" Brown. He also has experience with the All-Pro receiver. Arians started coaching wide receivers for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2003 and later moved to offensive coordinator. He won two Super Bowls with the team and remained in Steel City until the end of the 2011 season. Brown was a member of the team for two of those seasons — although he hadn't truly become a larger-than-life personality at that time.
While Arians previously made his feelings clear about signing Brown, the team still chose to do so prior to a Week 7 game against the Las Vegas Raiders. According to ESPN, Arians wasn't using "coach speak" when he shut down the idea. He just had to make adjustments due to the mounting injuries on the roster.
Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans has been hobbled by an ankle injury since Week 4 and has barely been able to practice. Their other Pro Bowl receiver, Chris Godwin, has missed three games because of a concussion and a hamstring strain. Their speedy deep threat Scotty Miller has been hampered by a hip/groin injury. And tight end O.J. Howard -- who had become a big part of the screen game -- went to injured reserve because of a ruptured Achilles.
Additionally, there is a belief among NFL experts that the number of people familiar with Brown will "keep him in check" during the remainder of the 2020 season. Arians coached the wide receiver in Pittsburgh while Buccaneers' offensive assistant Antwaan Randle-El was Brown's teammate in 2010. Similarly, Harold Goodwin was an offensive assistant with the Steelers for two years of Brown's tenure.
The list of former Steelers continues with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, who played with Brown for three seasons while serving as Ben Roethlisberger's backup. Outside linebackers coach Larry Foote and Brown were teammates for four seasons. Even recently-acquired defensive tackle Steve McLendon spent six seasons with Brown in Pittsburgh.
ESPN believes that the Buccaneers will be able to "manage" Brown once he hits the field, but the team will have to wait for one more week to see what happens. The former Steelers WR is eligible to practice on Wednesday, but he has one more game on his suspension. He will miss the upcoming battle with the New York Giants but will be eligible to suit up in Week 9 against the New Orleans Saints.