Less than two weeks after the end of his three-game suspension for using a fraudulent COVID-19 vaccine card, the Buccaneers wide receiver removed his uniform, pads and more Sunday before leaving the field of play topless in the middle of the third quarter as his team trailed the New York Jets.
Coach Bruce Arians said Brown won’t be part of the team going forward.
“He is no longer a Buc,” he told reporters after the game. “That’s the end of the story.”
Pressed for more information about the incident, Arians said he would not talk about Brown and reiterated he was no longer a member of the Buccaneers.
Brown spoke with fellow receiver Mike Evans before removing his jersey. Buccaneers staffers and others on the sideline appeared confused as Brown stripped. Brown then threw his undershirt into the MetLife Stadium crowd and did jumping jacks before signaling to the fans in the end zone on his walk to the tunnel.
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The Buccaneers offered no immediate update on Brown’s availability for the rest of the game.
Brown settled an accusation of sexual harassment and has a long history of clashes with his past teams. Upon signing the troubled wideout last season, Arians voiced that Brown would be on a short leash.
After Brown’s suspension, Arians and the Buccaneers welcomed the four-time All-Pro back to aid an injured receiving corps.
“We were talking on old experiences with Antonio,” Arians told NBC Sports last week. “When he came back to us, he was a model citizen. There was a new history. I really loved the way he tried to fit in, worked his way in and gave us everything he had to go to the Super Bowl. My whole attitude on him changed. I saw him trying to be a better human being.”
Arians told Fox Sports that Brown was not benched and that the receiver did not enter the game when told to.
“Never seen anything like it in all my years,” Arians, 69, said.
In an Instagram post after the game, Brown wrote, “Thanks for the opportunity.”
Quarterback Tom Brady, who has advocated for Brown in the past, targeted the receiver five times on Sunday. Brown had three catches for 26 yards, one week after he caught 10 passes for 101 yards.
“That’s obviously a difficult situation. I think we all want him to – I think everybody should find – hopefully do what they can to help him in ways that he really needs it,” Brady said after the game. “We all love him and care about him deeply. We want to see him be at his best. Unfortunately it won’t be on our team. We have a lot of friendships that will last … I think everyone should be very compassionate and empathetic toward some very difficult things that are happening.”
Le’Veon Bell, Brown’s teammate with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the beginning of their careers, said he texted Brown after the game.
“Obviously, some bad decision-making at times,” the running back told reporters.
Without Brown, Brady led the Buccaneers on a last-minute drive with no timeouts to take the lead and complete a signature comeback victory, 28-24.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Antonio Brown ‘no longer a Buc’ after leaving in middle of Jets game
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