Antonio Brown releases statement addressing MetLife Stadium walk-off
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (he’s still officially a member of the team) drew all NFL eyes to MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 2 when he removed his jersey and ran off the field in the third quarter of a game against the New York Jets.
After the game, head coach Bruce Arians said Brown was “no longer a Buc” and refused to answer any questions regarding the receiver.
Quarterback Tom Brady also played mostly coy but took a more empathetic approach, stating, “I think everybody should do what they can to help in ways that he really needs it. We all love him, we care about him deeply. We want to see him be at his best, and unfortunately, it won’t be with our team.”
Brown was spotted courtside at a Brooklyn Nets game the following day.
Now, Brown has finally spoken out with his side of the story.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero shared a lengthy statement from Brown through his attorney, Sean Burstin.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 6, 2022
I recommend reading the full statement if you want the complete story, but here’s a summary of a few key points.
Brown played through a painful ankle injury in the game. Ahead of the game, he took a “powerful and sometimes dangerous” painkiller that had been warned against by the NFLPA.
Brown says he played until he felt the pain was “extreme,” at which point he claims head coach Bruce Arians chastised him for not getting into the game despite Brown telling him he felt too hurt to play. According to Brown, Arians screamed, “YOU’RE DONE!” [sic] to Brown while running his finger across his throat.
Brown claims, “I didn’t quit. I was cut,” stating that he believes “[Arians] was telling me that if I didn’t play hurt, then I was done with the Bucs.”
Regarding his walk-off, Brown says, “I was cut first and then I went home. They threw me out like an animal and I refused to wear their brand on my body, so I took my jersey off.”
Brown criticizes Arians and the Buccaneers for publicly lying that they did not know about his ankle injury even though he had missed several games with the injury, exchanged texts with Arians about it leading into the game, and was on the injury report during that week of practice. He says the “worst part of this” is “the Bucs’ repeated effort to portray this as a random outburst.”
Brown says he had an MRI for his injury on the day after the game that shows “broken bone fragments stuck in my ankle, the ligament torn from the bone, and cartilage loss, which are beyond painful.” The injury “can and must be repaired,” says Brown, who later in the statement confirms he will be undergoing surgery on his ankle.
Brown says the MRI was read by two top orthopedic surgeons at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. The Buccaneers then “ordered” him under “penalty of discipline” to show up to a “more junior doctor” at HSS to get a second opinion. He believes the Buccaneers are “setting this whole thing up as a basis to cut [him] since what they did on Sunday was not legitimate.”
Wrapping it up, Brown thanks his Buccaneers teammates and fans while promising he will return to the field next season.