The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released wide receiver Antonio Brown on Thursday, days after hein the middle of a game. The Buccaneers also denied Brown’s that the team was trying to force him to play on an injured ankle.
While the Buccaneers acknowledged Brown had previously received treatment for his ankle, the team said he had been cleared to play by the medical team prior to the game. Brown had previously missed five games this season with an ankle injury.
“At no point during the game did he indicate to our medical personnel that he could not play,” the team said, adding that Brown has not complied with multiple attempts to schedule an evaluation of his ankle this week.
Brown left Sunday’s game against the New York Jets in the third quarter. The receiver stripped off his shoulder pads, jersey and undershirt and jogged into the locker room bare-chested as the game was still going on.
In a Wednesday statement obtained by CBS Sports, Brown said he “relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured,” adding, “Despite the pain, I suited up, the staff injected me with what I now know was a powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using, and I gave it my all for the team.”
Brown said he stopped playing once he could no longer “safely perform my playing responsibilities,” and called the pain “extreme.” Although he does not mention him by name, he said Arians tried to force him back into the game despite knowing about the injury, and that after he refused, the coach shouted “you’re done.”
“They are telling people that first I walked off, then I was cut,” Brown said. “No. No. No. I was cut first and then I went home.”
Brown also said he sought medical attention the following day, and that an MRI revealed “broken bone fragments stuck in my ankle, the ligament torn from the bone, and cartilage loss, which are beyond painful.” He also said the team had ordered him with “few hours notice” to see a “junior” doctor for another opinion.
But at a press conference Thursday after Brown had been dropped, head coach Bruce Arians said Brown refused to get back in the game without mentioning an injury — and when he asked Brown what was going on, the receiver replied “I ain’t getting the ball.”
“That’s when I said, ‘You’re done, get the f out of here. That’s the end of it,” Arians said.
Jordan Freiman contributed.