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Antonio Brown’s dramatic exit from the Bucs, explained

Antonio Brown’s messy breakup with the Bucs is full of twists and turns. Now the wide out is taking shots at Bruce Arians and Tom Brady’s business partner.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New York Jets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Antonio Brown and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went through a public breakup on the field that led to Brown being cut by the team for refusing to go into the game. Brown later said he was too injured to play, and team tried to force him to enter the game anyway. The situation keeps getting messier as it goes on.

Brown took off his uniform on the sidelines and stormed out of MetLife Stadium before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ come-from-behind win over the New York Jets in Week 17. The team announced Brown is no longer a member of the Bucs after an outburst that became the talk of the league on Sunday.

With the Bucs trailing the Jets in the third quarter, Brown took off his helmet, jersey, and shoulder pads, and threw his undershirt and gloves into the crowd, following an apparent argument with head coach Bruce Arians. Brown dramatically left the field with the game still going on despite teammate Mike Evans trying to calm him down.

Arians reportedly asked Brown to enter the game, and he refused multiple times. Brown reportedly did not believe he was healthy enough to play. Watch the scene here:

There were reports that Brown was benched during the game, but a source (from the team’s side?) denied it to ESPN.

Here are a couple alternate angles of Brown’s meltdown from the stands. He was jumping up and down and attempting to pump up the crowd as he ran into the tunnel.

The veteran wide receiver was listed as questionable entering the week because of an ankle injury. He couldn’t practice Thursday or Friday but was cleared by the team to play. He had three catches for 26 yards before leaving the game.

Brown issued a statement days later saying the Bucs forced him to play while injured and he eventually refused. “Because of my commitment to the game, I relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured,” Brown wrote in a statement. “Despite the pain, I suited up, the staff injected me with what I now know was a powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using, and I gave it my all for the team.”

You can read the full statement here.

Arians said he wasn’t aware of Brown’s ankle injury, which seems like an outright lie given that Brown wasn’t practicing because of it earlier in the week.

Brown then leaked texts he allegedly exchanged with Arians earlier in the week:

Brown had a $1 million contract incentive within his reach. The situation is reminiscent of Kawhi Leonard’s breakup with the San Antonio Spurs, which also happened because the Spurs were trying to force Leonard to play when he didn’t feel he was healthy enough to do it.

Arians wouldn’t answer questions about Brown after the game, but did note that he’s no longer part of the team.

Tom Brady showed empathy to Brown when asked about the situation after the game. “We all love him,” Brady said. “We care about him deeply. We have a lot of friendships that will last. I think everyone should be very compassionate and empathetic to some very difficult things that are happening.”

Later in the week, Brown started tagging Brady and personal trainer and business partner Alex Guerrero for allegedly scamming him out of money:

Brown did not travel home with the team. He reportedly caught an Uber out of the stadium.

Brown’s driver posted this on social media upon picking him up:

Brady led the Bucs on a nine-play, 93-yard drive to win the game, capped by a 33-yard touchdown throw to Cyril Grayson with 15 seconds left. The Bucs improved to 12-4 with the win.

Brown was suspended for three games for allegedly lying about his vaccination status before returning in Week 16. He caught 10 passes for 101 yards in the win against the Panthers.

Brown thanked the Bucs for the opportunity after the game. Then he released a rap song under the name AB.

A Tampa Bay passing game that recently lost Chris Godwin to a torn ACL is down one its top targets. At 33 years old, this could be the end of Brown’s NFL career.