'He is no longer a Buc, all right?'
The defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers came from behind to eke out a 28-24 win against the New York Jets on Sunday, but the real drama was on the sidelines. During the game, at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, Bucs wide receiver Antonio Brown removed his jersey, took off his black undershirt and threw it into the stands, and walked off the field.
"He is no longer a Buc, all right? That's the end of the story," Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians said in a postgame interview. "I'm not talking about it," he added later. "He's not a part of the Bucs."
It isn't clear what precipitated the career-limiting move by Brown, 33. But WATB Sports reports that Arians had benched Brown before he walked off, and Arians told Fox's Jay Glazer he had tried to get Brown to re-enter the game twice, but he refused. But Brown's short tenure with the Bucs was troubled from the start.
Brown was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010 and traded to the Oakland Raiders after nine seasons. He was released before ever playing with the Raiders, after several on-field altercations. "The Patriots signed Brown during the 2019 season after he was released by the Raiders, but they released him after one game amid mounting allegations of off-the-field misconduct," including rape allegations and burglary and battery charges involving a Florida moving company, The Washington Post reports.
At the urging of Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady, the Bucs signed Brown to a one-year deal in October 2020. Sunday's game was one of his first after a three-game suspension for giving the NFL a forged COVID-19 vaccination card.
After Sunday's game, Brady said of Brown, "we all love him and care about him deeply," adding, "I think everyone should be compassionate and empathetic toward some very difficult things that are happening."
"Brady provided the right words after two years of the wrong actions," Adam Kilgore writes at The Washington Post. "In the NFL's universe of mores, no sin is greater than quitting mid-game. Brown's latest strange misstep probably will cost him his career. If he can receive the help he needs away from football, it will be the best thing for him. It should have happened long before Sunday."