Antonio Brown’s latest antics in the Meadowlands could mean a bigger ball drop for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ season than the one in nearby Times Square a day ago.
Brown and head coach Bruce Arians got heated on the sideline during the third quarter of the Sunday, January 2, game according to the WDAE broadcast. Arians also benched Brown, WDAE reported.
It all led to Brown taking off his jersey, tossing his undershirt into the stands, pumping up the opposing New York Jets fans, and leaving the field.
A video from BarnBurner Sports shows Mike Evans trying to calm down Brown before the former Pittsburgh Steelers star removed his jersey. FOX reported that tight end O.J. Howard also tried to help Brown simmer down.
FOX also reported that security had mistaken Brown for a shirtless fan and went to tackle him initially during his exit.
Speculation of Brown’s release commenced immediately amid his behavior. Brown recently rejoined the team after a three-game suspension due to a fake COVID-19 vaccine card.
Arians confirmed after the game that Brown is done in Tampa Bay, Greg Auman of The Athletic reported.
Brown had 39 catches for 519 yards and four touchdowns this season. The Bucs also had a 7-0 record with him in the lineup.
He reportedly quit the Bucs and and didn’t fly home with the team according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine. She added that a source said Brown wasn’t benched.
Arians actually wanted Brown to get back in the game but the former All-Pro refused according to FOX’s Jay Glazer. Arians also shared his thoughts on Brown taking off his jersey.
“Yeah, I did. Never seen anything like it in all my years,” Arians told Glazer.
The latest Bucs news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Bucs newsletter here!
Brown Was on Thin Ice With Bucs
Arians took heat from the media about letting Brown return, but the Bucs head coach downplayed it. The Bucs also brought back safety Mike Edwards from suspension due to a fake vaccine card.
“I could give a s— what they think,” Arians said on Dec. 20. “Only thing I care about is this football team and what’s best for us.”
The Bucs signed Brown in 2020 after his eight-game suspension amid off-field issues. Arians made it clear that he wouldn’t tolerate Brown causing a disruption on or off the field.
“He screws up one time, he’s gone. I don’t think he will because he wants to play,” Arians said according to Pro Football Talk’s Peter King in October 2020.
Arians initially batted for Brown in 2020, saying he was a “model citizen” with the team.
Brown tallied 45 receptions for 483 yards and four touchdowns in 2020 and helped the Bucs win the Super Bowl. The Bucs re-signed him to another one-year contract, laden with incentives for the 2021 season.
Challenging Day for the Bucs
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady rallied the team to a 28-24 win over the Jets, but things weren’t pretty.
Things started slowly for the Bucs as the Jets shredded the secondary with touchdowns on the first two drives. Brady led a touchdown drive and another scoring drive resulting in a field goal. The Bucs added a field goal in the fourth quarter before the game-winning drive.
New York grabbed a two-score lead in the third quarter, but the Bucs responded with a touchdown drive amid Brown’s wild exit. He had three catches for 26 yards, including a long of 21.
Besides Brown leaving, the Bucs dealt with a couple of injuries during the game. Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting got shook up, and running back Ronald Jones II went down due to an ankle injury.
Tampa Bay already came into the game shorthanded without key defensive players. That included Lavonte David, Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul. Both Dean and Murphy-Bunting eventually played.