Antonio Brown’s NFL career took another bizarre turn on Sunday when the wide receiver walked away from his team’s game at MetLife Stadium.
With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trailing the New York Jets 24-10 in the third quarter, Brown removed his uniform and pads before walking off the field shirtless. Brown tossed his gloves and shirt into the stands. He waved to fans as he jogged through the end zone and into the tunnel.
Beforehand, teammate Mike Evans appeared to try to calm down Brown, who had three catches for 26 yards in the game.
After Brown bailed on the Bucs, quarterback Tom Brady helped lead a comeback. Brady connected with Cyril Grayson for a 33-yard touchdown play with 15 seconds left to secure a 27-24 victory.
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While the reason for Brown’s premature exit is not apparent, FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer reported that Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians had asked the receiver to go into the game and Brown refused. Arians on Monday denied an NFL Network report that Brown had told the coach he was injured.
Following Sunday’s win over the Jets, Arians said that Brown was off the team.
“He is no longer a Buc,” Arians said. “All right? That’s the end of the story. Let’s talk about the guys who went out there and won the game.”
Brown was appearing in his second game since being suspended Dec. 2 for three games for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols. The NFL said in a statement then that Brown was one of three “players (who) misrepresented their vaccination status under the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 Protocols.”
Following the game, Brown tweeted “Super Gremlin.” On Instagram, Brown wrote “Football is what we do, not who we are!” and then posted a photo of himself in his Buccaneers uniform to Instagram, writing “Thanks for the opportunity.”
On Sunday night, Brown posted a rap song called “Pit Not The Palace” on multiple music platforms. A teaser for the song was published Christmas Day on Twitter and Instagram by Brown’s label, CAB Records.
Brady had advocated for Brown in the past, and he asked for compassion in the aftermath of Sunday’s incident.
“That’s obviously a difficult situation. I think we all want him to – I think everybody should find – hopefully do what they can to help him in ways that he really needs it,” Brady said. “We all love him and care about him deeply. We want to see him be at his best. Unfortunately it won’t be on our team. We have a lot of friendships that will last … I think everyone should be very compassionate and empathetic toward some very difficult things that are happening.”
Brown was close to adding some performance bonuses to his $3.1 million salary. According to Spotrac, Brown was eight catches, 55 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown away from three separate $333,333 bonuses.
By walking off the field Sunday, Brown theoretically left behind nearly $1 million in potential bonus money. His 2021 season stat line: 42 receptions for 545 yards and four touchdowns.
While his talent is undeniable, Brown has a long history of personal conduct issues and bizarre behavior.
After Brown’s successful tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Buccaneers were the third team to take a chance on the receiver whose career at one time appeared on a path for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In 2019, after expressing a desire to leave the Steelers, the team traded Brown to the Oakland Raiders. Brown never played a down for the Raiders, but his brief tenure with the team was filled with drama. Brown was sidelined during training camp after burning his feet in a cryotherapy session. In the meantime, there was a grievance over which style of helmet Brown was allowed to wear. After unleashing a tirade at general manager Mike Mayock, the Raiders released Brown.
Brown then was quickly signed by the New England Patriots. Brown appeared in one game for the Patriots, who released him a day after Brown allegedly sent threatening text messages to one of two women who accused him of sexual assault.
On Jan. 22, 2020, Brown was charged with felony burglary and battery with two misdemeanors after a moving truck driver claimed he was assaulted by Brown and his trainer. Brown pleaded no contest and did not get jail time.
Brown was suspended July 31, 2020, eight games for violations of the league’s personal conduct policy.
On Oct. 27, 2020, the Buccaneers signed Brown. The receiver was a part of the team that won Super Bowl 55, catching a touchdown pass in the 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Brown’s season was not without incident, however. In November, the NFL opened an investigation after Brown allegedly destroyed a surveillance camera and threw a bike at a security-guard shack inside his gated community in Hollywood, Florida.
It seems very doubtful that after Sunday’s bizarre incident that another team would take a chance on the troubled Brown.
Contributing: The Associated Press.
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort