Antonio Brown Doubles Down on Buccaneers Accusation After Leaving Mid-Game
Antonio Brown is doubling down on his accusations against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, insisting that head coach Bruce Arians knew he was injured and forced him to play in Week 17 against his will until he took off his jersey, threw it into the stands and jogged off the field in the middle of the game against the New York Jets. The wide receiver, who was officially dropped by the Buccaneers on Thursday, said on Wednesday that his injured ankle was the reason he left the game – and that he was cut before he left the field.
In a lengthy statement via his attorney Sean Burstyn, Brown said Wednesday that he was going to have surgery on the injury, which he claimed that the Buccaneers covered up and forced him into playing while hurt. "Because of my commitment to the game, I relented to pressure directly from my coach [Bruce Arians] to play injured," he said. "Despite the pain, I suited up, the staff injected me with what I know was a powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using, and I gave it all for my team."
Statement from Antonio Brown via his attorney @seanburstyn: pic.twitter.com/pJ3VGFBjSy— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 6, 2022
He said that he told Arians on the sideline that he couldn't go back into the game. That's when he said he was told that he was "done." He then took off his jersey, pads and undershirt, threw his jersey into the crowd and ran off the field. The decision cost him approximately $1 million in bonus money he was eligible for and a possible injury settlement if the damage is career-ending. Arians said in the press conference after the game that Brown was "no longer a Buc" and later expressed concern for his mental health.
Brown insisted that he "didn't walk away" from the team, saying he was "thrown out." The Masked Singer alum alleged that Arians "denied on national television that he knew about my ankle" calling that "100% inaccurate." He maintained that he was "cut first" before leaving the game. He also said he had an MRI on his ankle Monday and it showed he had "broken bone fragments stuck in my ankle, the ligament torn from the bone, and cartilage loss, which are beyond painful."
What's more is that Thursday morning Brown released alleged text messages from Arians of the coach telling Brown to "make sure [he's] ready to go" for Sunday's game. "We ARE NOT resting for the playoffs," Arians appeared to write in the screenshot. Brown responded, telling the coach he can't "get to full speed" and asked to talk to Arians on the phone. To that message, Arians allegedly replied, "Come see me (in) the morning. We'll talk it out. Definitely want you with us in case you're ready."