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the buc stops

Antonio Brown alleges the Buccaneers fired him over ankle injury: 'They threw me out like an animal'

Days after he walked off the field during a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, Antonio Brown is accusing the team of an "ongoing cover-up."

The wide receiver was seen removing his jersey and leaving the field during a Sunday game against the New York Jets, after which Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians said, "He is no longer a Buc." While it wasn't clear at the time what prompted his dramatic exit, Brown in a new statement alleged he was cut after being pressured to play with an ankle injury. 

Brown said he "relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured" and was injected with a "sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using" but took a seat on the sideline when he could no longer perform.

"My coach came up to me, very upset, and shouted, 'What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you?'" Brown alleged. "I told him, 'It's my ankle.' But he knew that. It was well-documented and we had discussed it." 

Despite this, Brown alleged the coach then told him "that if I didn't play hurt, then I was done with the Bucs," and he says he removed his jersey because "they threw me out like an animal and I refused to wear their brand on my body." He denied quitting the team and accused the Bucs of an "ongoing cover-up" about the situation. "They are acting like I wasn't cut and now demanding that I see a doctor of their choice to examine my ankle," Brown says, adding he had an MRI Monday showing "broken bone fragments stuck in my ankle, the ligament torn from the bone, and cartilage loss." 

Arians has denied that Brown told him he was injured. But the wide receiver's attorney in a statement to ESPN accused the team of trying to "avoid responsibility for ignoring the risk of serious injury for the sake of winning a game."