The Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially released Antonio Brown on Thursday, days after the wide receiver abruptly left the field during the Bucs game vs. the Jets. Brown’s contract was terminated effective immediately, the team said in a statement. Late in the third quarter of Tampa Bay’s eventual 28–24 win on Sunday, Brown removed his jersey and shoulder pads before running shirtless off the field. Arians said after the win Brown is “no longer a Buc,” due to the third-quarter incident.
On Wednesday night, Brown’s attorney Sean Burstyn accused the team of executing an “ongoing cover-up” of the fact that he was effectively cut during the game. Brown told the Buccaneers coaching staff that he did not believe his ankle was healthy enough for him to continue playing, prior to his mid-game exit. Per NFL Network, when Buccaneers coaches asked Brown in the to enter the game, Brown told them he did not want to play at risk of further injuring his ankle. Buccaneers coaches, however, believed Brown was healthy. They told him that if he was not going to go into the game when told then he could not be with the team.
The team said in a statement Thursday that while Brown did receive treatment leading up to Sunday, he was cleared by the team’s medical staff and “at no point during the game did he indicate he could not play.” The Bucs added: “We have attempted, multiple times throughout the 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.”
Brown missed two months of the 2021 season due to both an ankle injury and a three-game suspension for misrepresenting his COVID-19 vaccination status; he returned to the field on Dec. 26.
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