Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is responding to Antonio Brown’s claims.
A day after Brown released a statement claiming the Bucs head coach tried to make him play through an ankle injury before saying he was “done,” Arians is firing back. While speaking to reporters on Thursday, January 6, Arians elaborated further on the sideline drama surrounding the veteran receiver from the Bucs’ last game versus the New York Jets.
“He was very upset at halftime about who was getting targeted,” Arians said. “Got that calmed down, players took care of that. It started again on the sideline. We called for the personnel group that he had played in the entire game. He refused to go in the game. That’s when I looked back and saw him basically wave off the coach. I then went back, approached him about what was going on. ‘I ain’t playing.’ What’s going on? ‘I ain’t getting the ball.’ That’s when I said, ‘You’re done, get the eff out of here.’”
Arians concluded his comments on the Brown situation, saying that you “can’t force a player to play.”
“You can’t force a player to play,” Arians added. “I mean, they have that choice. It’s their body. He decided to play. He and Mike both were on pitch counts. And we were trying to manage that the best we could in the first half.”
Just prior to Arians’ media availability, Brown was officially cut by the Buccaneers.
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Did Brown Walk Out Over Incentives?
Arians’ response is interesting because it makes one speculate that Brown walked out on the team because he felt he wasn’t going to reach his incentives.
Brown had the remainder of the Jets game and one more game versus the Carolina Panthers to reach his contract incentives of the following: eight more catches to unlock a $333,333 bonus, 55 more receiving yards to unlock another $333,333 bonus and one more receiving touchdown to unlock another $333,333 bonus.
In summary, Brown is accusing Arians of making him play through a severe ankle injury. On the other end, Arians is accusing Brown of being selfish and refusing to enter the game because he wasn’t getting the ball (Brown had just three receptions for 26 yards to that point).
It’s worth mentioning that Arians did not reveal these details immediately following the game or during Monday’s media availability. He merely mentioned that Brown refused to enter the game.
Report: Brown Asked for Guaranteed Incentives
Adding another layer to the story — and more storylines in the back-and-forth between the Bucs organization and Brown — Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Brown and his agent requested the remaining $2 million in incentives in his contract to be guaranteed.
“Last week, Antonio Brown and his agent requested that the remaining $2 million in incentives in his contract for this season be guaranteed, per Bucs’ GM Jason Licht,” says Schefter. “The team declined to guarantee those incentives.”
At this point, the NFL is not planning on disciplining Brown for his actions during the Week 17 game. It also appears that Brown is planning to make a return next season following ankle surgery.
It’ll be interesting to see what Brown’s retort — if there is one — is to Arians’ latest comments.