“HOLLYWOOD (CALIFORNIA) MARCH 29”: Antonio Brown, an NFL player, attends the DOOM Videogame Tournament at Siren Studios, Hollywood, California, on March 29, 2016. (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images Bethesda Softworks).
Antonio Brown, a Tampa Bay Buccaneers player, appeared to be abandoning his Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates in spectacular fashion Sunday afternoon. He stripped off his shirt and left the field halfway through a game against New York Jets.
Many fans were left baffled by Brown’s sudden departure. They are now wondering about Brown’s future with the Buccaneers and in the NFL. Fans are left wondering why Brown reacted in this manner and what the future holds for him professionally.
Brown removed his shoulder pads and jersey, along with his gloves and undershirt, midway through the third quarter and tossed them in the crowd. After dancing and waving, he went into the locker room to exit his team’s locker. He reportedly left the stadium soon after and he was alone, leaving his teammates to fly home to Tampa.
Bruce Arians, the Buccaneer Head coach, told reporters in the aftermath that Brown was “no longer a Buc.” However, he didn’t go into detail about Brown’s reasons for leaving, but merely stated that Brown’s departure from the team was “the end” of the story.
Brown was apparently benched just before he made his exit. However, this led to theories that Brown left because he was frustrated. Tom Brady, a veteran Buccaneers quarterback, urged people to be compassionate and empathic in the wake of the incident and suggested that Brown might be facing “some very difficult issues.”
He said that it was “clearly a difficult situation” and added that the team “love(s), him, and care deeply about him,” according to The Sun.
According to Yahoo!, a new report suggests that Brown’s reasons for leaving could have been related to an injury.
Ian Rapoport, NFL Network’s head of news, claimed that Brown’s injury to his ankle was what caused him to display his frustrations on Sunday. Rapoport shared a segment to his Twitter account and stated that Brown was reluctant to play because of an ankle injury that he had been dealing with for several weeks.
Rapoport stated that Brown, who had been suffering from an ankle injury over the past few weeks, had not practiced Thursday and Friday and that he was unsure if he would be able “to play.” Rapoport explained that Brown had told him that he didn’t feel well and that he shouldn’t have entered the game.
Rapoport reported that Rapoport replied to this assertion by saying, “If your refusal to enter the game when we tell it to, then you cannot be here.”
Brown was then reported to have been cut from the team.
Brown has been having issues with his ankle in recent months, adding weight to his claim that it is the reason for his sudden exit. Yahoo! noted that Brown didn’t appear to favor his ankle in the final moments of Brown’s time on the field. However, this does not negate the claim. There is a big difference between pro football and walking on an injury ankle.
Twitter was used by more than one person to discuss another type of fallout from yesterday’s walkout: the effect on people who depended on him to deliver a victory in a fantasy league. Many fantasy football players were watching championship games yesterday.
Brown’s future in pro football is now in doubt due to the unexpected events that occurred on Sunday. Brown’s exit leaves the future of wide receiver fans uncertain. Brown has a history that could be troubling for NFL teams, such as his recent attempt to fake a vaccination card (covered by the New York Times among others).
The Bucs won Sunday’s game 28-24, despite Brown’s departure. They are now headed back to the playoffs, with a record of 12-4, and looking to win back to back Super Bowls, for the first time since Brady’s New England Patriots team achieved that feat in 2004 and 2005.