Antonio Brown will make his Tampa Bay Buccaneers debut when the team takes on the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. It's been over a year since he's played in an NFL game as he was cut from the New England Patriots in September 2019 due to sexual assault and sexual misconduct allegations. On Wednesday, Brown spoke to reporters for the first time since signing with the Bucs last month and revealed what he learned during his time off.
"Being away from the game for a year-and-a-half, just to be able to be part of the process, to be out there with the guys today, was surreal, something I don't take for granted, something I have a great appreciation for, a better perspective about," Brown said as reported by ESPN. "I took a lot of time off from the game to reevaluate myself, to look within, to get a better perspective of myself, of working on myself within and without."
Brown has been with four teams in a 20-month span. In July, the NFL suspended the seven-time Pro Bowler for eight weeks for violating the league's personal conduct policy. Along with the allegations, Brown is currently on probation for felony burglary with battery charges, which stems from an altercation with a delivery driver in Florida. He told reporters what he's been doing with himself after being cut last year and being suspended from the league.
"I've just been spending a lot of time with family, working on myself within and just staying resilient, keeping the mind on a mission — that's being a football player and doing all the things that come with that, even when the times got hard, keeping myself in shape, keeping myself motivated from within, not listening to the naysayers, not giving [in to] doubt or worries about whether I'd be able to return," Brown stated. "I had good trainers. I had good people around me in my corner that kept me encouraged, that kept me motivated, and I just believed."
In his one game with the Patriots last year, Brown caught four passes for 56 yards and one touchdown. It's not clear how much time he'll see on Sunday, but he's ready to make plays with Tom Brady. "I mean, he's the greatest quarterback of all time," Brown said when talking about Brady. "Nothing he's done in the past matters. He's always getting better, day in and day out. I just learn a lot from him. How he trains, how he takes care of himself professionally, his discipline, his work ethic, his approach — he's been a great guy in my corner and one of my close friends."