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(Video Credit: CBS Sports HQ)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown gave a lengthy statement on Wednesday telling his side of the story concerning his high-profile mid-game meltdown, claiming that the coach forced him to play with an injured ankle and then tried to cover it up.
“Because of my commitment to the game, I relented to pressure directly from my coach [Bruce Arians] to play injured,” Brown asserted in a statement released by his attorney Sean Burstyn. “Despite the pain, I suited up, the staff injected me with what I know was a powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using, and I gave it all for my team.”
“I took a seat on the sideline and my coach came up to me, very upset, and shouted, `What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with you?’ I told him, ‘It’s my ankle,’” Brown recounted in his statement. “But he knew that. It was well documented and we had discussed it.
“He then ordered me to get on the field. I said, ‘Coach, I can’t.’ He didn’t call for medical attention. Instead, he shouted at me, `YOU’RE DONE!’ while he ran his finger across his throat. Coach was telling me that if I didn’t play hurt, then I was done with the Bucs,” he charged.
Statement from Antonio Brown via his attorney @seanburstyn: pic.twitter.com/pJ3VGFBjSy
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 6, 2022
“I didn’t quit. I was cut. I didn’t walk away from my brothers. I was thrown out. Being fired on the sideline for having a painful injury was bad enough. Then came their ‘spin’. Coach denied on national television that he knew about my ankle. That’s 100% inaccurate,” Brown declared.
Burstyn told ESPN that Brown had informed the training staff and Arians that he felt he was too hurt to continue in the game. Brown contends that he exchanged texts days before the game took place concerning his ankle with the coach.
“I know we were losing to the Jets and that was frustrating for all of us. But I could not make football plays on that ankle,” he commented. “Yes, I walked off the field. But there’s a major difference between launching from the line and taking hits, compared to jogging off the field with a rush of emotions going through your mind. I am reflecting on my reaction, but there was a trigger. The trigger was someone telling me that I’m not allowed to feel pain.”
According to the wide receiver and his attorney, Brown underwent an MRI on Monday which the Tampa Bay Times had reported on previously. Brown said that it was reviewed by two orthopedic surgeons, including Dr. Martin O’Malley at the Hospital for Special Surgery. The scan allegedly showed broken fragments in his ankle.
Antonio Brown update below:
Antonio's friends were worried about the pain he was experiencing so they encouraged him to see a top surgeon outside the Bucs' organization. That visit and an MRI confirm his serious pain and that story is developing…
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) January 4, 2022
Brown is claiming that the Buccaneers ordered him to get a second opinion from a “junior doctor” at HSS and then called it a “joke.”
Arians told Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer earlier this week that he was attempting to get Brown back into the game and that he refused. When he refused to go back in a second time, the coach told him to leave.
Just talked to Bruce Arians who said he was trying to get AB to go into game & AB refused. Tried again Brown refused & Arians told him to get out. On if he saw AB take his jersey off.
“Yeah, I did. Never seen anything like it in all my years.” @NFLonFOX
— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) January 2, 2022
“I don’t know that he was [injured],” Arians claimed at the time. “It’s pretty obvious what happened. He left the field and that was it. We had a conversation and he left the field.”
Brown’s attorney tweeted in defense of his client while slamming the Buccaneers: “Antonio Brown never faked an injury in his life. It is incredible that people are pushing false rumors that what happened Sunday was the result of mental health issues and not a well known ankle injury. Mental health is important, but so is basic dignity. #CutAndCage.”
Antonio Brown never faked an injury in his life. It is incredible that people are pushing false rumors that what happened Sunday was the result of mental health issues and not a well known ankle injury. Mental health is important, but so is basic dignity. #CutAndCage 1/6
— Sean Burstyn (@seanburstyn) January 6, 2022
“Instead of asking how I felt or getting to the bottom of it, the team texted my camp promoting a totally false narrative that I randomly acted out without any explanation… I have stress, I have things to work on. But the worst part of this has been the Bucs’ repeated effort to portray this as a random outburst,” the seven-time Pro Bowler emotionally wrote.
Brown plans to play again next season after his ankle recovers from a scheduled surgery.
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