EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown erupted in frustration on the visitors sideline at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, leaving the field in the third quarter with coach Bruce Arians proclaiming after the game that he is no longer a member of the team.
When asked for more details on what led to Brown’s departure, Arians said, “I’m not talking about him. He’s no longer part of the Bucs.”
A source told ESPN that Brown was not benched. “He quit,” the source said. Brown did not fly home on the team charter, according to another source.
Teammates Mike Evans and O.J. Howard attempted to calm Brown, who took off his jersey, pads and undershirt, throwing his shirt and gloves into the stands. He then dashed across the end zone while both teams were on the field and waved to fans as he went to the locker room.
MetLife Stadium Security told ESPN that at first, they thought Brown was a fan who leaped onto the field.
“We thought he was a jumper,” one security officer said, adding that as Brown went through the tunnel, he asked state troopers for a ride to the airport but they told him, “No.”
“He was shirtless and didn’t have his wallet,” the security officer said, adding that Brown got changed in the locker room and was able to get alternate transportation to the airport.
Arians told Fox Sports after the game that he was trying to get Brown to go into the game, and Brown refused, twice, as Arians told him to “get out.” Arians added to Fox Sports regarding Brown’s taking off his equipment: “Never seen anything like that in all my years.”
Arians added to ESPN that he “didn’t know why” Brown didn’t want to go in. When asked if Brown’s ankle injury may have played a role in his refusal to play, Arians said, “No.”
Brady called it a “difficult situation” with Brown. He was not notified of Brown’s dismissal until after the game.
It’s also the latest misstep for Brown. Last week, he returned to the Bucs after a three-game suspension by the NFL for turning in a fake vaccination card. He caught 10 passes for 101 receiving yards and accused the media of “creating drama.”
“We all love him. We care about him deeply. We want to see him be at his best. Unfortunately it won’t be with our team,” Brady said, adding that he will continue his friendship with Brown, and would encourage those around him to help him.
“I think everyone should be very compassionate and empathetic toward some very difficult things that are happening,” Brady said.
“I found out when we got into the locker room at the end of the game,” Bell said. “I instantly sent him a text, to try to catch up with him real quick. Obviously he texted me back and I talked to him. He still one of my close friends. Like you won’t hear me talking bad about AB at all. Obviously I understand, things happen, but he’s one of my closest friends I’ve been around, a close teammate, overall a good person. Some bad decision-making at times, but he’s human, not perfect, and we’ll continue to move on without him and keep moving forward.
“It’s tough. Obviously when I came over here, I was happy to be reunited with him. Unfortunately it was only two games, but at the end of the day, I wish the best for him outside of football or whatever’s next for him.”