EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tampa Bay wide receiver Antonio Brown “is no longer a Buc” after he took off his jersey and pads and exited the field late in the third quarter of the Buccaneers’ game Sunday against the New York Jets.
Coach Bruce Arians made the announcement after Tampa Bay (12-4) rallied to score 11 points in the fourth quarter to defeat the Jets 28-24.
Update 6:27 p.m. EST Jan. 3: Arians’ decision may not be final, however, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Original report: Brown left the game with 2:51 remaining in the third quarter and the Bucs trailing 24-10 at MetLife Stadium.
His teammates, wide receiver Mike Evans and tight end O.J. Howard, attempted to calm down Brown, who took off his equipment and threw his undershirt and gloves into the stands, ESPN reported. Brown then cut across the end zone while both teams were on the field, waving to fans as he went to the locker room.
The Bucs’ official radio network reported that Brown had been benched by Arians just before he exited the field, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
“Antonio Brown boiled over, very upset on the sideline,” Fox sideline reporter Jen Hale said. “Took off his shoulder pads. Mike Evans, O.J. Howard trying to convince him to keep them on. Obviously, they were unable to do so.”
Brown had three catches for 26 yards before he exited.
Arians was asked why Brown was jettisoned from the team, but he cut off the discussion, saying, “He is no longer a Buc. All right, that’s the end of the story.
“Let’s talk about the guys who went out there and won the game.”
Arians told Fox afterward that he was trying to get Brown to go into the game and that the receiver kept refusing, The Wall Street Journal reported. It was at that point the coach told Brown to get out, according to the newspaper.
Pressed for more details about what led to Brown’s departure, Arians said, “I’m not talking about him. He’s no longer part of the Bucs.”
Brown returned to action on Dec. 26 after a three-game suspension for misrepresenting his vaccination, the Times reported. He had 10 catches for 101 yards as Tampa Bay defeated Carolina.
For the season, Brown has 42 catches for 545 yards and four touchdowns. He would have earned a $333,333 performance incentive for 50 catches, another $333,333 if he had 600 receiving yards, and another $333,333 for five touchdowns, the newspaper reported.
“That’s obviously a difficult situation. ... I think everybody should find, hopefully do what they can to help him in ways that he really needs it,” Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady told reporters after Sunday’s game. “We all love him, we care about him deeply. We want to see him at his best, and unfortunately, it won’t be with our team.”
Chris Myers, who was the play-by-play announcer for the Fox telecast of the Bucs-Jets game, tweeted after the game that he was told by stadium security personnel that Brown ran out of the stadium “and into a police car to be escorted to a flight out of town.”
Arians and Tampa Bay officials did not confirm that report.
Later on Instagram, Brown posted a different photo of himself and the caption, “Thanks for the opportunity.”
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