Antonio Brown made headlines for all the wrong reasons this year due to a handful of off-field issues. After clearing a three-game suspension, the star wide receiver played an important role in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' smashing 32-6 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Brown was a much-needed offensive threat throughout the game and proved to be a handful for the opposition in Week 16. On his return, Brown had 10 catches for 101 yards against a rudderless Panthers team. The Buccaneers were in desperate need of offensive support after losing key players to injuries last week.
Antonio Brown claps back at reporters during press conference
Brown was made available to the media after the Week 16 game after the Buccaneers clinched their first NFC South title since 2007. But things didn't go well during postgame media availability as reporters questioned his off-the-field antics instead of the game and playoffs preparation.
Brown wasn't going to entertain questions outside of football. When asked why coach Bruce Arians kept him on the roster despite off-field issues, he said:
“I don’t want to talk about that. You guys are all about drama. This is about football. We’re going to talk about Carolina or I don’t want to talk to you,” Brown said.
“I’m just here to do my job. I can’t control what people write, how people try to frame me, people try to bring me down. Life is about obstacles and persevering and doing what’s right.”
Brown's long list of off-field issues was a matter of concern for the Buccaneers, but they decided not to part ways with him. Before the vaccination saga, Brown was found guilty of reckless driving subsequent to failing to show up for his court proceedings in 2019. He was released by the Las Vegas Raiders just a few months after reportedly clashing with GM Mike Maycock.
The wide receiver signed with the Patriots but was released after just one game following accusations of sexual misconduct by multiple women. Cut to November 2021, Brown was suspended for three games without pay for violating the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols. He had reportedly submitted a fake COVID-19 vaccination card at the start of the 2021 NFL season, but has since been vaccinated against the virus.
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Injuries to key players forced the Buccaneers to utilize Brown in their favor as they approach the playoffs next month. The wide receiver was electric during the Buccaneers' Super Bowl success last season. Coach Arians and Tom Brady will be hoping to see a similar run this time around.