Bucs' Bruce Arians addresses Antonio Brown fit after release, says star refused to play over lack of targets
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians on Thursday spoke out at length about Antonio Brown’s outburst during the Week 17 game against the New York Jets, saying he cut him from the game after repeated meltdowns and his refusal to play.
The Bucs announced on Thursday that Brown was officially released from the team after days of speculation and a statement from Brown claiming he didn’t quit and that Arians was aware of his ankle injury.
Antonio Brown wipes his face as he leaves the field during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Andrew Mills/NJ Advance Media via AP)
Arians said the problem began when Brown began complaining about not being targeted enough.
“He was very upset at halftime about who was getting targeted. Got that calmed down – players took care of that. It started again on the sideline,” he explained. “We had called for the personal group that he had played [with] the entire game, he refused to go in the game. That’s when I look back and saw him basically wave off the coach. I then went back and approached him about what was going on. [He said] ‘I ain’t playing.’ [I said] ‘what’s going on [and he said] ‘I ain’t getting the ball.’ That’s when I said you’re done, get the ‘F’ out of here and that’s the end of it.”
Brown released a lengthy statement late Wednesday explaining that he “didn’t quit. I was cut.” He said the coaching staff was aware of his injury and posted a text exchange with Arians talking about it.
New York Jets’ Bryce Hall tackles Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Antonio Brown Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)
“I know we were losing to the jets and that was frustrating for all of us. But I could not make football plays on that ankle,” Brown’s statement read. “Yes, I walked off the field. But there’s a major difference between launching from the line and taking hits, compared to jogging off the field with a rush of emotions going through your mind.”
Brown took off his uniform before throwing his gloves and shirt in the stands at MetLife on his way to the tunnel. On his way out, he jogged off the field and jumped up and down, motioning toward the crowd before finally exiting.
Buccaneers Antonio Brown and Tom Brady celebrate their touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium on Sept. 9, 2021, in Tampa, Florida.
(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
The veteran wide receiver said he underwent an MRI on Monday that showed “broken bone fragments stuck in my ankle, the ligament torn from the bone, and cartilage loss.”
Arians finished his comments Thursday saying the team is focused on Week 18 and beyond.
“We’re working on Carolina, that’s the end of the story, and hopefully it ends today.”
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