Tampa Bay Bucs coach on Antonio Brown after exit: ‘I wish him well’

Bruce Arians said, "it was very hard" watching Brown go shirtless before leaving the stadium mid-game on Sunday.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians isn’t holding a grudge against Antonio Brown after announcing plans to release the star wide receiver following his bizarre and provocative mid-game exit against the New York Jets on Sunday.

A bare-chested Brown was seen throwing his shirt into the crowd at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey Sunday afternoon. He jumped up and down to hype up the audience near the end zone as he exited the playing field midway through the game’s third quarter.

Credit: Tampa Bay Buccaneers on YouTube

Brown’s antics stunned his coaches, teammates and everyone else watching the game. Video of the incident went viral on social media before making national headlines and raising questions about Brown’s mental health.

Arians confirmed during a post-game press conference that Brown was “no longer a Buc“, though as of Monday evening the receiver hasn’t officially been released yet.

Speaking to reporters at his team’s weekly press conference on Monday, the head coach said “it was very hard” to watch Brown’s behavior on the field.

“I wish him well,” Arians said of the player nicknamed “AB.” “I hope, if he needs help, get some. It’s very hard because I do care about him.”

Arians said he has “no idea” if Brown received some sort of mental health evaluation from doctors before leaving the Jets stadium on Sunday. The Bucs coach also said he didn’t consult with Brown before deciding to cut him and that he’s not sure what set Brown off.

“Once he left the field, I never saw him,” Arians said.

“You didn’t tell him to leave? He left completely on his own?” a reporter asked.

“We had a conversation and he left the field, yeah,” Arians replied.

Antonio Brown thegrio.com
Antonio Brown #81 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up prior to the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on January 02, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Brown’s hijinks on Sunday were just the latest in a years-long series of disruptive behavior he’s displayed while playing for four separate NFL teams.

The NFL suspended the 33-year-old for three games in December after he and two other players were caught using fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards to avoid league protocols, per Sports Illustrated.

The Buccaneers signed Brown during the 2020 NFL season after the New England Patriots cut him in 2019 for texting threats to a woman who publicly accused Brown of sexually assaulting her two years prior, according to ESPN.

The Patriots signed Brown to a one-year deal almost immediately after he was cut from the Oakland Raiders during the 2019 NFL season.

Brown took to Instagram on Sept. 7, 2019, to ask the Raiders to cut him after team administrators decided to rework the guaranteed payouts in Brown’s previous three-year, $50 million contract, CBS Sports reported.

At the time, the Raiders argued Brown broke the terms of his deal with conduct detrimental to the team when he engaged in a shouting match with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock over an Instagram post Brown made after the team suspended him for failing to report to practice, according to NFL.com.

Brown refused to show up for training camp because the NFL wouldn’t let him use his old helmet due to an update in the league’s equipment safety requirements, according to CBS Sports.

Prior to that, Brown was unavailable to practice for the Raiders due to his feet suffering from extreme frost bite after he entered a cryogenic chamber while barefoot during a rehabilitation treatment, The Guardian reported.

The Pittsburgh Steelers cut Brown towards the end of the team’s 2018 NFL season after he engaged in a heated argument with a teammate and missed multiple meetings and practices ahead of the team’s Week 17 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, according to ESPN.

Brown hasn’t said anything publicly since expressing gratitude to the Buccaneers for giving him yet another chance to continue his pro football career.

“Thanks for the opportunity,” Brown wrote on Sunday.

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