Feel free to speculate on exactly why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers waited until Thursday afternoon to make this decision, but it is now final, they have released Antonio Brown.
After Brown refused to go into the game on Sunday against the New York Jets, he caused a scene when exiting the field, after, according to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, being told to leave by Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians. After the Buccaneers 28-24 fourth-quarter comeback victory, Arians was asked about Brown and answered the wide receiver was “no longer a Buc.” However, Brown remained on the roster and was listed on Wednesday as not practicing due to a non-injury, personal issue.
The Buccaneers released their statement about Brown being let go on Thursday just after 12:15 p.m. EST, in direct response to Brown’s claims that the team forced him to play through an ankle injury.
Brown had already released a statement of his own through his agent on Wednesday about how Arians said “You’re done,” while making a throat-slash gesture, when he told his coach that he could not enter the game on Sunday. Also in the statement, Brown said a Monday MRI revealed significant damage to his ankle, and that the Buccaneers were still demanding he see a doctor of their choosing. Earlier today, Brown shared on Twitter an alleged text exchange he had the Friday before the Buccaneers’ Week 17 game with Arians, informing his coach about a still injured ankle. Arians denied on Monday that Brown had informed him of an injury.
In the Bucs’ statement, they said that while Brown was listed on the injury report in the week leading up to the game against the Jets — his game status was questionable as of Friday — he did not tell anyone that he was too hurt to play the day of the game.
This official release also comes after Brown posted a text exchange on his Instagram story that he had with Tom Brady’s trainer and business partner, Alex Guerrero. Brown tags Brady in the story, accusing Guerrero of doing no work and taking $100,000. Allegedly, Brown was only on the Buccaneers (even after all the controversy and legal issues of the last few years) because Brady wanted him on the team.
The best way to describe this situation with Brown, is the best way to describe him: Messy. Nothing can ever be done cleanly with him. The NFLPA is actually looking into a potential cover up by the Buccaneers regarding his alleged ankle injury, but union president George Atallah told USA Today Sports that Brown has not yet contacted the union and that they don’t have a lot of details yet.
I’m not about to take the Buccaneers word about what happened on Sunday just because it’s on company letterhead. Their interest is in getting players on the field. This is a business, not Pop Warner.
But for whatever skepticism I have about how the Buccaneers handled this situation, I have at minimum the exact same amount for Brown. The only consistent thing about him is erratic behavior. On Sunday, he’s ripping pads off, on Thursday he’s calling out the main person in his corner on social media, and in December he gets suspended for using a fake vaccine card when his personal chef tells on him because Brown has this nasty habit of not paying the people that he hires.
In a situation in which nobody deserves the benefit of the doubt, I guess dubiousness all around is the only correct decision. And you know what, now that I back away from this and see just how NFL this whole situation is — player accused of misconduct toward women and other indiscretions is signed by a team in contention for a Super Bowl, and a team handling a player injury in a questionable way — dubiousness for all is the right call.