Antonio Brown’s actions in Week 17 caused seismic-level social media reactions among NFL media and fans, and FOX analyst Terry Bradshaw’s reaction added extra waves.
Late in the third quarter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trailing the New York Jets 24-10, Brown took off his shoulder pads and jersey on the sideline, threw gear into the stands and waved to fans as he voluntarily exited the field. After the Bucs completed the 28-24 comeback win, head coach Bruce Arians confirmed “he is no longer a Buc” and didn’t fly home with the team.
Bradshaw sounded off about Brown’s deeper issues in a strong way.
“Put him in a straitjacket and take him to some hospital,” Bradshaw said during the FOX postgame broadcast.
Fellow Fanalyst Michael Strahan also made light of the situation, imitating Brown’s exit on the FOX set.
Recognizing the seriousness of mental health issues, multiple NFL fans called out the analysts’ actions on social media. Mental health issues have haunted current and former NFL players for years due in part to head trauma from the game.
“Big yikes from Terry Bradshaw and Michael Strahan laughing about A.B. and joking about him being put in a straight jacket,” a Ph.D. student wrote on Twitter. “Pretty clear the guy is not well. We should be advocating for mental health treatment, not mocking those who need it.”
Another tweet from The Durham Report called for the NFL to “de-stigmatize mental health help” and called out Bradshaw in a manner equaling the analyst’s comment.
Another fan called it “sad to see” the analysts joking about Brown in response to author Wajahat Ali’s post about hoping the former Bucs player “gets help.”
“Mental illness isn’t funny,” she wrote.
Author and podcaster Jason Whitlock also expressed concern for Brown.
“I have no harsh words for Antonio Brown,” Whitlock wrote. “He needs help. Lots of help.”
Brown threw away his season with a 12-win defending Super Bowl champion Bucs team, millions of dollars in incentives, and possibly his football career. He had just returned from a three-game suspension due to a fake COVID-19 vaccine card.
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Bill Cowher: ‘We’ve Seen It Everywhere He’s Been’
CBS Sports analyst Bill Cowher expressed concern for Brown during the network’s postgame spot.
“It’s a pattern of behavior,” Cowher said. “We’ve seen it everywhere he’s been. You could see it from the time he was in Pittsburgh, to the Raiders, to New England, and where he is right now. It’s sad. An intervention is really needed right now.”
Brown’s off-field issues led to his exit with the three aforementioned NFL teams between 2018 and 2019, only two seasons before his abrupt exit with the Bucs.
Tom Brady, Le’Veon Bell Show Support for Brown
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady and Le’Veon Bell, a former long-time teammate of Brown with the Pittsburgh Steelers, also voiced concern for Brown after the January 2 game.
“Yeah, that’s obviously a difficult situation. … I think everybody should hopefully do what they can to help him in ways that he really needs it,” Brady told the media during his January 2 postgame press conference. “We all love him. We care about him deeply. We want to see him be at his best, and unfortunately, it won’t be with our team, but we have a lot of friendships that will last.
“And again, I think the most important thing about football are the relationships with your friends and your teammates and they go beyond the field. I think everyone should be very compassionate and empathetic toward some very difficult things that are happening.”
Bell, who previously played with Brown in Pittsburgh, shed light on Brown amid Sunday’s animated exit.
“You won’t hear me talking bad about AB at all. … Overall good person, obviously some bad decision-making at times, but he’s human,” Bell told reporters after the Week 17 win.
Brown joined the Bucs as a free agent in 2020 amid off-field issues and helped the team win 2021 Super Bowl.
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Maybe, just maybe the man should not of been on the field. Brady & the Buc’s believed enough to have him as a teammate. Such a talented person who hopefully will get the help he needs.
In my opinion, there is so much mental health being thrown around maybe we should go back to flag football…
That’s not a mental health issue, that’s arrogance and disobedience and thuggery and selfishness on display without feeling ashamed one bit.
Clearly, he has mental health issues. I base this on what he’s displayed throughout his career, however, it doesn’t make it ok. But how is this a display of “thuggery?”
I feel for people with mental health issues although it seems like now every time someone does something they’re not supposed to do they blame it on mental health problems and we’re supposed to feel sorry for them and look past their actions. But sometimes you can be just a stupid asshole. This is one of those times.