It is Antonio Brown vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers now. Ever since Brown decided to take his shoulder pads off and leave the field mid-game against the New York Jets last week, a war of words ensued between wide receiver and head coach Bruce Arians. The story continued to unfold on Thursday as Brown released text messages from Arians and Tom Brady's personal trainer Alex Guerrero.
Brown made his side of the story clear via Twitter and Instagram on Thursday. Just hours later, the Buccaneers released a stern statement, releasing Brown officially from the team roster. The statement also emphasized the other side of the story, accusing Brown and adding fuel to the fire.
Antonio Brown was unhappy with limited targets vs New York Jets
ESPN's Adam Schefter revealed that Brown was agitated about not getting the targets he'd hoped for during the Buccaneers' game against the New York Jets. He was reportedly furious at Arians and the coaching staff's decision-making during the game. The wide receiver lost his cool and had to be calmed down by teammates at halftime.
"One other note to this saga, per Bucs’ sources: At halftime of Sunday’s game against the Jets, Antonio Brown was agitated about not getting the targets he was expecting during the game and had to be calmed down."
Just moments later, Brown tossed his jersey into the stands and left the field in what was one of the highlights of this year's NFL season.
On Wednesday, Brown took on head coach Arians in his statement. The former Buccaneers wide receiver accused Arians of forcing him to play through an injured ankle. Brown said he was shut down on the sidelines by the head coach when he refused to get back into the game.
“Because of my commitment to the game, I relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured,” Brown said in the statement. “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.”
Just a day later, the Buccaneers addressed the situation in their official response to the drama. The official statement said:
“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have terminated the contract of Antonio Brown, effective immediately. While Antonio did receive treatment on his ankle and was listed on the injury report the week leading up to last Sunday’s game, he was cleared to play by our medical team prior to the start of the game and at no point during the game did he indicate to our medical personnel that he could not play.
The statement further stated:
“We have attempted, multiple times throughout this 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.”
Arians, too, addressed the media on Thursday, following the release of Brown. He didn't mince his words while explaining what went down during the Buccaneers' Week 17 game. Here's what he said at the press conference:
"I was never notified of it. That was the disturbing thing when we were looking for him to go back into the game. He was very upset at halftime about who was getting targeted. We got that calmed down, players took care of that. Started again on the sideline. We called for the personnel group he had played in the entire game."
Arians said he wasn't going to entertain Brown's sideline antics. He added:
"He refused to go in the game. That’s when I looked back and saw him basically waive off the coach. I then went back, approached him about what was going on. (He said) ‘I ain’t playing.’ (I said) ‘What’s going on?’ (He replied) ‘I ain’t getting the ball.’ That’s when I said you’re done, get the F out of here. That’s the end of it. We are working on Carolina, that’s the end of the story. Hopefully it ends today."