Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians has spent the past day thinking a lot about Antonio Brown. The veteran receiver had a meltdown on the Tampa Bay sideline during the team’s 28-24 win over the Jets, and was dismissed from the team as a result of his actions.
Brown left the sideline midway through the third quarter after an apparent dispute with the coaches. He then took off his jersey, pads and undershirt before throwing his shirt and gloves into the crowd. He then ran off the field, did some jumping jacks in the end zone to pump up the Jets crowd and disappeared into the locker room after flashing a peace sign.
He never returned to the field.
Arians spoke about Brown’s outburst on Monday afternoon and was asked whether there was a sign that things were escalating before Brown’s departure.
“None whatsoever,” Arians told ESPN’s Jenna Laine.
Arians declined to explain exactly what he and Brown had talked about on the sideline before Brown’s meltdown. Per a report from NBC’s Peter King, Arians asked Brown to go into the game, but he refused. NFL Network reported that Brown may have been dealing with an aggravation of his ankle injury, but Arians denied that the receiver was dealing with an injury.
“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’s reaction prompted the team to release him. Arians announced that the receiver “was no longer a Buc” after the game, and he flew home separately from the team.
IYER: How Antonio Brown exit affects Buccaneers’ Super Bowl chances
Despite the way things ended, Arians doesn’t regret the decision to sign Brown.
“I have no regrets. I just hope the best for him,” Arians said.
Brown was a part of Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl-winning team last season, but he had a history of outbursts, off-the-field issues — including sexual assault charges — and mental health issues at the time of his signing. That’s why his tenures with the Steelers, Raiders and Patriots ended prematurely.
Thus, it’s not exactly surprising that Brown’s time with the Bucs ended in a similar fashion. It still didn’t make it any less difficult for Arians, who called the decision “very hard.”
“I wish him well,” Arians said. “If he needs help, I hope he gets some. It’s very hard. Because I do care about him.”
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