Just days after Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians informed the media that Antonio Brown “is no longer a Buc” for walking off the field during their game against the New York Jets, the former Pro Bowl wide receiver has been officially cut by his team.
On Thursday (Jan. 6), the NFC South team announced in a formal statement Brown’s release and also addressed the allegations he levied against them.
“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have terminated the contract of Antonio Brown, effective immediately," the team said via Twitter. "While Antonio did receive treatment on his ankle and was listed on the injury report the week leading up to last Sunday's game, he was cleared to play by our medical team prior to the start of the game and at no point during the game did he indicate to our medical personnel that he could not play. We have attempted, multiple times throughout this week, to schedule an evaluation by an outside orthopedic specialist, yet Antonio has not complied. Maintaining the health and wellness of our players is of the utmost importance to our organization.
Arians, from his perspective, also chronicled Sunday’s events as well as the days leading up to Brown’s formal release from Tampa Bay.
"Obviously, we let Antonio go today. Just to clear you up on some things that happened. At no point in time during that game did he ever ask the trainer or doctor about his ankle. He never went through – that's the normal protocol,” said Arians during a press conference. “You go through protocols during games. I was never notified of it. So that was the disturbing thing when we were going to look for him to go back into the game. He was very upset at halftime about who was getting targeted, but got that calmed down – players took care of that.”
Arians said that Brown refused to go in the game and said when he approached him he simply said ‘I ain't playing.’
“What's going on?” Arians said he asked Brown, who allegedly responded, “I ain't getting the ball.’”
“That's when I said, ‘You're done. Get the F outta here.’ That's the end of it. We're working on Carolina and that's the end of the story. Hopefully, it ends today," said Arians.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Brown’s frustration over lack of targets was fueled by possible financial incentives in his contract that could have earned him hundreds of thousands of dollars during Sunday’s game. This culminated when Brown and his agent reportedly approached Bucs general manager Jason Licht about having the $2 million in remaining incentives guaranteed, to which Licht declined.
Additionally, via Schefter, Licht claims Brown “did not tell anyone on the Bucs’ medical staff about his ankle bothering him on game day before the game against the Jets or during it,” suggesting that his grievances and premature departure had more to do with targets rather than any injury.
The new reports and release of Brown from Tampa Bay comes as he revealed alleged text messages via social media with Arians that show he informed his former head coach that his ankle was injured but said he was “all in” for Sunday’s game against the Jets if “I wake up tomorrow feel better I’ll be ready.” He captioned the post “Health over Wealth # Barbarian.”