The Antonio Brown saga took another dramatic turn Wednesday night, after the embattled Tampa Bay Buccaneers star wide receiver released a lengthy statement blaming his departure from Sunday’s game vs. the New York Jets on his head coach Bruce Arians.
“I didn’t quit. I was cut. I didn’t walk away from my brothers. I was thrown out. Being fired on the sideline for having a painful injury was bad enough. Then came their ‘spin’. Coach denied on national television that he knew about my ankle. That’s 100% inaccurate,” Brown said in a statement, released via his attorney Sean Burstyn.
Brown disclosed in the statement that he underwent an MRI on his ankle that revealed broken bone fragments stuck in his ankle, in addition to a ligament torn from the bone and cartilage loss.
The allegations contradict comments Monday from Arians, who said he was unaware of Brown’s injury.
“I don’t know that he was [injured],” Arians claimed. “It’s pretty obvious what happened. He left the field and that was it. We had a conversation and he left the field.”
“I don’t know that he was [injured]. It’s pretty obvious what happened. He left the field and that was it. We had a conversation and he left the field.”
— Bruce Arians, Buccaneers head coach
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians questions an officials call against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Tampa, Florida. (Associated Press)
Brown, however, maintains that Arians and the Buccaneers organization were well aware of his ankle injury.
“Because of my commitment to the game, I relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured. 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 all for the team,” the Tampa Bay receiver added.
“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,” the receiver, who caught a touchdown in last year’s Super Bowl win over Kansas City, 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.”
— Antonio Brown
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown wipes his face as he leaves the field after throwing his equipment into the stands while his team is on offense during the third quarter of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Associated Press)
The revelations come following an unprecedented exit for Brown from Tampa Bay’s 27-24 win at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, leading some to openly wonder about the wide receiver’s mental state and possibility of onset CTE.
Brown in his statement addressed the Buccaneers blaming of his exit on mental issues.
“Instead of asking how I felt or getting to the bottom of it, the team texted my camp promoting a totally false narrative that I randomly acted out without any explanation…I have stress, I have things to work on. But the worst part of this has been the Bucs’ repeated effort to portray this as a random outburst,” the seven-time Pro Bowler wrote.