On Sunday, one of the strangest sagas in the NFL in some time played out on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sideline in the third quarter of what became a comeback win over the Jets in New Jersey.
The Fox cameras cut to Antonio Brown, suddenly shirtless, walking off the field and waving to the crowd. A replay showed Brown ripping off his shoulder pads and throwing his gloves and undershirt into the crowd, appearing to quit the Bucs on the spot in the middle of a drive. Brown then was seen waiting for a car outside the stadium and went to New York, appearing courtside at a Nets game and releasing a song shortly after the entire scene.
However, the two sides have disputed exactly what went down, with the Bucs cutting Brown and Bruce Arians unwilling to go into specifics regarding what happened in the build up to Brown leaving the field. According to Brown, it wasn’t him quitting but that he was being told to play through an ankle injury he didn’t feel he could play through anymore, and the Bucs cut him for not playing hurt. That is, of course, a serious accusation and one the league and the players association will both want to look into. The Bucs have denied that was the case, but Brown went into further detail about the situation in a statement through his attorney, in which he claims he was injected with a painkiller before the game but felt he could no longer play in the third quarter when a coach told him “‘You’re done’ while he ran a finger across his throat,” indicating he was being cut for not playing hurt before he walked off the field, as opposed to the Bucs insistence he was cut for leaving the field.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 6, 2022
Brown says he will be having surgery on his ankle and says he wasn’t able to cut and push off the line of scrimmage as he felt he needed to in order to perform and the pain was extreme — and explained that there’s a difference between doing those things and jogging off of the field. All told, it seems like the Brown saga will not be coming to an end anytime soon, as an investigation into what happened seems likely and there will be plenty of questions for the Bucs if Brown can prove the alleged conversation on the sideline went down as he says.