Antonio Brown is no longer a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That announcement was made just minutes after the end of regulation in the Bucs’ 28-24 victory over the New York Jets in Week 17. While Brown did little to help Tampa Bay in their comeback win, the 33-year-old most certainly made viral waves for his antics on the sidelines.
With just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter, a visibly upset Brown made arguably the most bizarre grand exit in league history. The star wideout shed his pads, tossed his shirt into the crowd, hit a few jumping jacks in the endzone and proceeded to wave goodbye to the fans — and likely his NFL career — as he made his way to the locker room.
Visibly, Brown’s actions were those of a real-life meme. However, lingering concerns pertaining to Brown’s mental health quickly proceeded to resurface in mass volume over the internet, urging people to show some empathy for the seven-time Pro Bowler. With that in mind, you can see where some fans may have become a bit infuriated by the behavior on the NFL on FOX set as Brown’s situation was unfolding.
“Put him in a straitjacket and take him to some hospital,” analyst Terry Bradshaw said of Brown — both of whom are former Pittsburgh Steelers alumns.
Michael Strahan Immitates AB
Bradshaw’s colleague, fellow FOX analyst Michael Strahan, also made light of the situation. The New York Giants legend imitated Brown’s exit, jokingly storming off the FOX set, tossing his suit jacket and waving goodbye.
While Strahan’s acting chops led to its fair share of laughs, both in the studio and across the internet, it was met with just as much pushback.
“@michaelstrahan I am disappointed in your response to Antonio Brown leaving the game today. While none of us has specifics, I expect more compassion from a former player for his brother who obviously has injuries that have made him incapable of handling certain stresses,” one fan tweeted.
“Really sad of [Michael] Strahan making fun of Antonio Brown‘s mental illness,” another Twitter user noted. “Really sad that the rest of the crew laughed when Michael made such joke. I thought the NFL supported mental illness. Maybe CTE played a role. Gosh. Guess you all are perfect.”
The list of takes goes on and on — in both directions — however here’s one more: “Very distasteful comments and reactions coming from Terry Bradshaw & @michaelstrahan on Antonio Brown this afternoon. Both should issue an apology as mental health is never funny,” one fan proclaimed.
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Strahan Voices Concern for Brown
As some time passed, Strahan was far less comical regarding the matter, sending a concerning and supportive message to Brown at the conclusion of the 4:00 p.m. ET game window:
I think it’s more. Obviously, this is not normal behavior. So you’re saying he’s not going to be a part of this team. I’m fine with that. I think he’s obviously fine with that. But there is something wrong, because this is not normal behavior.
This is a man, this is not the first time we’ve seen something, not the second, this is the third time — and a lot of other things I’m sure we may not know about. I just hope that if he does need help that he’s able to get it because this man has a family and a lot of people who have looked up to him or people who depend on him. And I just hope he can just get the people around him to support him because this is just not normal behavior.
And I know a lot of people look and go ‘oh it’s great it’s funny, we’re going to have great memes out of this’ but this is about somebody’s life and more than just a meme. I know it looks like he let down his team, but obviously there’s a bigger issue here that goes beyond if he plays football anymore. I just don’t want this to end in a way in which none of us are going to enjoy. Hopefully, we can have a better ending than what we’ve seen today.
While Strahan’s words most certainly appeared heartfelt, not everyone on Twitter was buying into the NFL Hall of Famer’s spiel.