Antonio Brown’s NFL career took another bizarre turn on Sunday when he walked out of his team’s game at MetLife Stadium.
In the third quarter, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trailing the New York Jets 24-10, Brown removed his uniform and pads before walking off the field shirtless. Brown threw his gloves and shirt into the bleachers. As he jogged through the end zone and into the tunnel, he waved to fans.
Earlier in the game, teammate Mike Evans appeared to try to calm down Brown, who had three catches for 26 yards.
Following Brown’s departure from the Buccaneers, quarterback Tom Brady assisted in leading a comeback. Brady connected with Cyril Grayson for a 33-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds remaining to secure a 27-24 victory. While the reason for Brown’s early exit is unknown, FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer reported that Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians had asked the receiver to play and Brown refused.
Arians announced Brown’s departure from the team following Sunday’s win over the Jets.
Brown was in his second game since being suspended for three games on December 2 for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Brown was one of three “players (who) misrepresented their vaccination status under the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 Protocols,” according to the NFL at the time.
Brown tweeted “Super Gremlin” after the game. Brown wrote on Instagram, “Football is what we do, not who we are!” and then posted a photo of himself in his Buccaneers uniform on Instagram, writing “Thanks for the opportunity.”
Brown released a rap song titled “Pit Not The Palace” on multiple music platforms on Sunday night. Brown’s label, CAB Records, released a teaser for the song on Twitter and Instagram on Christmas Day.
Brady had previously advocated for Brown, and in the aftermath of Sunday’s incident, he asked for compassion.
“That is clearly a difficult situation. “I think we all want him to – I think everyone should find – hopefully do whatever they can to help him in ways that he really needs it,” Brady said. “We all adore him and care deeply for him.” We want to see him perform at his peak. Sadly, it will not 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.”
While Brown’s talent is undeniable, he has a long history of personal issues and bizarre behavior.
Following Brown’s successful tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Buccaneers became the third team to take a chance on the receiver whose career appeared to be on track for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
After expressing his desire to leave the Steelers, Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders in 2019. Brown never played a down for the Raiders, but his time with the team was fraught with drama. Brown was forced to miss training camp after his feet were burned during a cryotherapy session. Meanwhile, there was a squabble over the type of helmet Brown was permitted to wear. Brown was released by the Raiders after launching a rant at general manager Mike Mayock.
Brown was then signed by the New England Patriots. Brown played in one game for the Patriots before being released a day later for allegedly sending threatening text messages to one of two women who accused him of sexual assault.
Brown was charged with felony burglary and battery with two misdemeanors on January 22, 2020, after a moving truck driver claimed Brown and his trainer assaulted him. Brown pleaded no contest and received no jail time.
Brown was suspended for eight games on July 31, 2020, for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Brown was signed by the Buccaneers on October 27, 2020. The receiver was a member of the Super Bowl 55 winning team, catching a touchdown pass in the 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Brown’s season, however, was not without incident. The NFL launched an investigation into Brown in November after he allegedly destroyed a surveillance camera and threw a bike at a security-guard shack inside his gated community in Hollywood, Florida.
After Sunday’s bizarre incident, it appears unlikely that another team would take a chance on the troubled Brown.