Antonio Brown says Tampa Bay Buccaneers pressured him to play hurt against New York Jets after injecting ‘powerful and dangerous’ painkiller


Cameron Hogwood

Interviews, Comment & Analysis @ch_skysports

Antonio Brown denied he ‘quit’ on his Bucs team-mates when he exited in the third quarter against the Jets, instead suggesting he was fired by Bruce Arians after refusing to play with an ankle injury that requires surgery; Sky Sports have approached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for comment

Last Updated: 06/01/22 9:30am

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown leaves the field after taking off his jersey and throwing it into the stands.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown leaves the field after taking off his jersey and throwing it into the stands.

Antonio Brown has accused the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of pressuring him to play through an ankle injury that will require surgery despite being in ‘extreme pain’ during Sunday’s win over the New York Jets. 

The wide receiver made headlines with his hasty exit at MetLife Stadium when he removed his jersey, shoulder pads and undershirt before throwing his shirt and gloves into the stands and leaving the field with the Bucs trailing in the third quarter.

In a lengthy statement released by his attorney Sean Burstyn on Wednesday, Brown said he was fired by Bruce Arians after telling Tampa’s head coach he could not return to the game due to his ankle. He added that an MRI had revealed broken bone fragments, a ligament torn from the bone and cartilage loss.

When asked about the situation post-game, Arians told reporters Brown was “no longer a Buc” and said he did not inform him that he was not healthy enough to continue playing.

“Not really,” said Arians. “I mean, what happened. It was pretty obvious what happened. He left the field and that was it.”

“I wish him well,” Arians added Monday. “I hope if he needs help, (he) gets some. It’s very hard. I do care about him.”

Sky Sports have approached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for comment.

In his statement Brown said: “I make mistakes. I’m working on myself and I have positive influences around me. But one thing I don’t do is shy away from playing hard on the field. No one can accuse me of not giving it my all every play.

“Because of my commitment to the game, I relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured. Despite the pain, I suited up, the staff injected me with what I now know was a powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using, and I gave it my all for the team.

“I played until it was clear that I could not use my ankle to safely perform my playing responsibilities. On top of that, the pain was extreme. I took a seat on the sideline and my coach came up to me, very upset, and shouted, ‘What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with you?’ I told him, ‘It’s my ankle.’ But he knew that. It was well-documented and we had discussed it.

“He then ordered me to get on the field. I said, ‘Coach, I can’t.’ He didn’t call for medical attention. Instead, he shouted at me, ‘YOU’RE DONE!’ while he ran his finger across his throat. Coach was telling me that if I didn’t play hurt, then I was done with the Bucs.”

Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf tells Inside The Huddle that Antonio Brown has to be 'held accountable for his actions' after he walked out on his team midway through the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' game with the New York Jets on Sunday.

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Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf tells Inside The Huddle that Antonio Brown has to be ‘held accountable for his actions’ after he walked out on his team midway through the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ game with the New York Jets on Sunday.

Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf tells Inside The Huddle that Antonio Brown has to be ‘held accountable for his actions’ after he walked out on his team midway through the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ game with the New York Jets on Sunday.

Brown further refuted claims he walked out on his team-mates, among whom Mike Evans had been seen trying to persuade the 33-year-old to stay on the sideline before quarterback Tom Brady called for compassion and empathy in his post-game presser.

“I didn’t quit. I was cut,” the statement continued. “I didn’t walk away from my brothers. I was thrown out. Being fired on the sideline for having a painful injury was bad enough. Then came their ‘spin.’ Coach denied on national television that he knew about my ankle.

“That’s 100 per cent inaccurate. Not only did he know I missed several games with the injury, he and I exchanged texts days before the game where he clearly acknowledged my injury. He obviously knew I was on the injury list. And the GM acknowledged after the game in text messages to my camp that I did tell coach about my ankle pain on Sunday.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has wished Antonio Brown well, despite the wide receiver's controversial exit from the field of play against the New York Jets.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has wished Antonio Brown well, despite the wide receiver’s controversial exit from the field of play against the New York Jets.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has wished Antonio Brown well, despite the wide receiver’s controversial exit from the field of play against the New York Jets.

Brown missed five games earlier this season after sustaining his ankle injury in Week Six against the Philadelphia Eagles, before being suspended for three games as punishment for holding a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. He was listed as questionable with an ankle injury on the Bucs’ injury report heading into Week 17 after missing practice on Thursday and Friday.

Having released the statement on behalf of the veteran on Twitter, attorney Burstyn added that Brown had “never faked an injury in his life”.

“It is incredible that people are pushing false rumours that what happened Sunday was the result of mental health issues and not a well-known ankle injury,” he continued. “Mental health is important, but so is basic dignity.

“His injury can clearly be seen on the MRI image taken Monday morning. Among other things, you can plainly see a piece of loose BONE from the outside that is pressing into his ankle joint and a ligament snapped clean off the bone. (He will recover, but needs surgery.)”

As of Thursday morning Brown is still yet to be officially cut by the Bucs.

He ended his statement by saying: “Once my surgery is complete, I’ll be back to 100 per cent and looking forward to next season. Business gonna be BOOMIN!”

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