Antonio Brown opened up about what he was thinking when he removed his gear on the sideline in a game against the New York Jets over the weekend.
Brown spoke about his decision to ditch the Buccaneers mid-game in an interview on the “Full Send Podcast,” which was released Friday. He said teammates Mike Evans and O.J. Howard were trying to keep him on the sideline while he was removing his uniform, irate that coach Bruce Arians told him to leave.
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“I got too sexy for the stadium,” Brown said when asked about why he removed his shirt. “The coach said get the f— outta here. So, f— you guys too. I’m taking off your logo. I’m not wearing this s— no more. I threw it. Now, imagine you hear 60,000 people like ‘yeah, AB!’ My f—ing adrenaline got so high. I just got too sexy for my clothes. I started giving the fans what they wanted. They want gloves, they want shirts.”
The star wide receiver was asked if he should have handled the meltdown differently.
“Bro, I’m Antonio Brown. Do you know what it’s like to be on the football field? Imagine you playing a game, football game …,” Brown said. “Imagine the guys you came to battle with while they know your fricking ankle is f—ed, you barely could run, and the guy you think got your back, this your team, this the guy you flew here with … They knew about my situation before we even came.
“I communicated with the coach, the trainers. Everyone knows. And to get there and be battling them and the guy tell you because you can’t go to war with them … get the f— outta here. What do you want me to do? Sit there like … Bro, I’m an alpha man. You say f— me … I’m not gonna react bro because it don’t really matter what you say. You can’t affect me. But if you discriminate on my public image and my name, bro it’s like f—you too, professionally.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown wipes his face as he leaves the field after throwing his equipment into the stands during the third quarter against the New York Jets Jan. 2, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (Andrew Mills/NJ Advance Media via AP)
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“They targeted hate on me. Why would you do a guy like that? You cut me in the press conference after the game. These guys know my injuries, my MRIs. They know what I got going on. But you know, maybe I make everything look too good. Everyone see what I does. They don’t see what … (the other side does). Exactly. They make me get to that point. You’d feel super disrespected if coach woulda told you ‘get the f— outta here.’”
The Buccaneers released Brown Thursday, but he said he still plans to play football in the future.
“Of course, man,” he said. “It’s my passion. It’s what I do. Every year is a fresh start. I still like getting in shape. I still like to compete. It’s just getting started. Obviously, we had some stuff that went on. It’s all about integrity and handling people the right way. I’m a football player first, that’s my business. That’s what I do. That’s not who I am.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) gestures to the crowd as he leaves the field during the third quarter Jan. 2, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. Brown left the game and did not return. (Andrew Mills/NJ Advance Media via AP)
“Sometimes people like to say I had a past … you know I never done anything to no one. Let’s get this clear. All I ever did was play football. I acted irrational and did some things people may not have understand. But that’s a part of life. For some reason, I get a bad tag and a bad name. I get handled the wrong way. We as humans and we as people just want to be treated civilized.”
Even with the chaos swirling around him, Brown said he feels “good.”
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“Life is bliss,” he said. “It’s not about what happened to you, it’s how you handle what happened to you, because in life you’re gonna be dealing with a lot of s—.”
Bruce Arians spoke of Brown on Thursday after Brown was released, saying he was unaware anything was wrong with the wide receiver.
“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,” Arians told reporters. “That’s the normal protocol. You go through protocol during games. I was never notified of it. So, obviously that was the disturbing thing when we’re looking for him to go back in the game.”
Arians said the problem began when Brown began complaining about not being targeted enough.
“He was very upset at halftime about who was getting targeted. Got that calmed down – players took care of that. It started again on the sideline,” Arians explained. “We had called for the personal group that he had played [with] the entire game, he refused to go in the game.
“That’s when I look back and saw him basically wave off the coach. I then went back and approached him about what was going on. [He said] ‘I ain’t playing.’ [I said] ‘what’s going on, [and he said] ‘I ain’t getting the ball.’ That’s when I said you’re done, get the ‘F’ out of here and that’s the end of it.”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians questions an official’s call against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half Sept. 19, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
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Brown released a lengthy statement late Wednesday through his lawyer explaining that he “didn’t quit. I was cut.” He said the coaching staff was aware of his injury and posted a text exchange with Arians talking about it.