Antonio Brown’s time with the Buccaneers ended when he stormed off the field during a game.
NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Brown was thrown out after saying he was too injured to play.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said he had never been told Brown believed he was too injured.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown shocked the NFL world on Sunday when he tore off his pads and walked off the field in the middle of a game against the New York Jets.
With the Buccaneers trailing in the second half, Brown stripped down to his pants, waved goodbye to the crowd, and walked off the field and into the locker room.
On Monday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Brown’s outburst was not random and was actually a response to a conflict with the Buccaneers coaching staff.
According to Rapoport, Brown, dealing with an ankle injury for several weeks, told the Buccaneers that he was too injured to re-enter the game. The Buccaneers called for him to head out onto the field anyway.
“The response from the offensive coaches and from Bruce Arians was, ‘If you are not going to go into the game when we tell you to go into the game, then you cannot be here,'” Rapoport said. “At that point, they threw him off the sidelines and cut him from the team.”
Rapoport added that the situation between Brown and the Buccaneers had been deteriorating for some time.
Rapoport’s report brought up some obvious questions for the Buccaneers coaching staff. Players who believe they are too injured to play have every right to let their coaches know and sit out.
But speaking with reporters on Monday after Rapoport’s appearance, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians shared his side of the story, which appeared to differ drastically.
“I don’t know that he was [injured],” Arians said when asked about the report that Brown would not go into the game due to 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.”
Asked directly whether Brown told him that he was injured, Arians offered a flat, “No.”
Arians said that he did not talk to Brown after he left the field and had not communicated with him or his team since the incident.
Arians refused on several occasions to discuss the details of the conversation he had with Brown before he departed from the sideline.
There’s still a clear disparity between Rapoport’s report and Arians’ comments. If Brown raised the issue of an injury and was told he either had to play or go, that’s wholly different than Brown just independently deciding to tear off his pads and head for the door.
Until either Arians or Brown opens up about the conversation they shared on the sideline before the incident, it will be tough to figure out what happened in the moments leading up to Brown’s dramatic exit.
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