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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – A day after the now former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown jogged off the field amid the Bucs’ 28-24 victory over the New York Jets, resulting in his firing from the team, Bucs coach Bruce Arians said he does not regret bringing Brown into the organization.
“I do not regret. I just hope the best for him,” Arians said Monday, acknowledging that it was hard for him to see Brown break out on the sidelines in such a chaotic way. After teammates Mike Evans and OJ Howard tried to calm him down, Brown took off his shirt and pillows, tossed his gloves and undershirt in the stands, and jogged across the zone shirtless while both teams were on the field.
A security officer at MetLife Stadium told ESPN that they thought it was a fan who jumped onto the pitch. The officer also told ESPN that once inside the tunnel, Brown asked state troopers for a ride to the airport, but they were unable to fulfill his request, so he received alternative transportation to the airport and did not fly home with the team.
“It was very hard,” Arians said. “I wish him all the best. If he needs help, I hope he gets something. It’s very difficult. Because I care about him.”
Brown has a history of volatile behavior and has previously discussed his mental health. Arians said Monday he is still not sure why Brown left the field.
“I like him a lot. I hope he’s okay,” he said.
Arians said he did not speak to Brown after he left the pitch – only before he left it. He would not reveal the details of this interaction, only that the conversation at no point involved Brown’s injured ankle.
A report from the NFL Network said Brown was upset because he did not feel he could continue playing on his ankle, which he injured in Week 6, forcing him to miss five games along with three further matches due to his league-imposed suspension to produce. a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.
“I do not know he was [injured], “said Arians.
Did he say he was hurt? “No,” said Arians.
“It’s pretty obvious what happened. He left the field and that was it,” Arians said. “We had a conversation and he left the field.”
Brown was allowed to play last week and recorded a 10-catch, 101-yard performance against the Carolina Panthers, but he also tweaked the ankle again. Still, he was medically approved to play Sunday against the Jets.
Arians indicated that he would never force a player to play through injury and that if a player felt he was too injured to continue, that player would have to talk to the training staff, who would then warn him.
Arians said he has not spoken to Brown or his representatives since his departure.
When Arians were asked if there were triggering moments that led to Brown’s outburst, Arians said, “No one at all.”
The Arians had expressed hesitation in signing Brown, calling him a “diva” and saying “there is no room” for him in their receiving corps before the unit was decimated by damage. That was what prompted the Bucs to sign him in October 2020, on the heels of his eight-match exclusion, after he was found to have violated the league’s personal behavior policy to beat a van driver.
The Arians made it clear to Brown, “You screw up once and you’re gone.”
Brown continued to be the Bucs’ most focused player in the final five weeks of the regular season leading up to their Super Bowl races, and several members of the organization spoke in support of him. Arians called him a “model citizen.”
An NFL investigation found Brown produced a fake vaccine card – a federal crime – but Arians opposed his “one and done” statement and chose to bring Brown back last month after he was ordered to serve a suspension in three games.
Asked what he would say to those who did not think Brown deserved a chance, Arians said, “I do not give an s — what they think.” He also said, “History changed.”
“I really loved the way he tried to fit in, worked his way in and gave us everything he had to go to the Super Bowl,” Arians says. told ProFootballTalk.com last week. “My whole attitude towards him changed. I saw him try to be a better person. So I got a completely different relationship than when it was when you and I talked together last year.”
That was before Brown’s exit in the middle of the game on Sunday. Brown was seen on social media later Sunday smiling from the back seat of a car driven by New Jersey driver Danny Chalet as he spoke enthusiastically about a reality show.
Brown later posted a link to a new music single on his Instagram story and then posted a photo of himself in a Buccaneers uniform from the game. That caption read: “Big MAD (Making a Difference). Thank you for the opportunity.”