Things reached a boiling point in the past 24 hours with Brown’s campaign to claim the Bucs forced him to play on an injured ankle. That’s likely why the Bucs ultimately released Brown on Thursday, January 6, Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Cwik speculates.
“Brown released text messages Thursday in which he called out Tom Brady, Bruce Arians and Brady’s trainer Alex Guerrero. The team apparently decided those messages were the final nail in the coffin,” Cwik wrote.
The Bucs’ official statement on Thursday morning amid Brown’s release addressed the former player’s ankle injury and how it was handled at the Sunday, January 2, game in New York. Brown got in a heated discussion with head coach Bruce Arians during the third quarter. The receiver then tore off his pads and jersey, tossed his gloves and undershirt into the crowd, and skipped out of the stadium, waving to fans. Brown’s camp claimed it had to do with an ongoing ankle injury. Arians claimed the discussion wasn’t about an injury during a press conference on Monday, January 3.
“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 reads.
“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,” the statement concludes.
Boiling Point With Brown
Brown began speaking out on Jan. 5 through his attorney with a written statement and released texts on social media. The former Bucs receiver called out Arians, Tom Brady and Alex Guerrero, Brady’s trainer who had worked a little with Brown.
Thursday morning, Brown tweeted an alleged text thread between him and Arians.
“Health over wealth,” Brown tweeted.
Brown shared the following alleged text exchange with Guerrero via Instagram.
Brown claims Guerrero charged him $100,000 for treatment not done.
Bucs GM Says Brown Didn’t Cooperate
Bucs general manager Jason Licht handled how the team would proceed with Brown according to Arians on Wednesday, January 5. It appeared the Bucs would keep Brown and not let another team claim him as a free agent.
Licht, meanwhile, looked to work with Brown regarding the ankle injury according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine. The Bucs set up two doctors’ appointments for Brown to attend this week, but he didn’t attend the appointments or communicate with Licht, Laine reported. Brown could have gone on injured reserve if the case, per Laine.
Tampa Bay also notably declined Brown and his agent’s request to be guaranteed the $2 million in contract performance incentives according to Licht, Laine reported. Brown missed three games due to suspension over a fake COVID-19 vaccine card and another six games due to injury or COVID-19.
Brown’s short tenure with the Bucs lasted 15 regular season games between this season and 2020. He caught 42 passes for 545 yards and four touchdowns in seven games this season, all won by the Bucs.