Bucs Coach Bruce Arians said Brown never told him that he was too hurt to play
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown has released a lengthy statement saying that he was forced to play on an injured ankle that will require surgery.
According to CBS Sports, an MRI on Monday showed that Brown has broken bone fragments, a torn ligament, and cartilage loss.
He began the statement with gratitude to “the Bucs, fans, and my teammates. The Bucs helped me return to productive football after I had difficulties that could have ended my career.” He added, “Being part of a Super Bowl champion team and then a contender is a dream come true.”
Brown then noted, “I make mistakes. I’m working on myself and I have positive influences around me. But one thing I don’t do is shy away from playing hard on the field. No one can accuse me of not giving it my all every play.”
He noted that he played with injuries due to pressure from his coach, Bruce Arians. “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. I played until it was clear that I could not use my ankle to safely perform my playing responsibilities. On top of that, the pain was extreme,” Brown said.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – JANUARY 02: Antonio Brown #81 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on against the New York Jets during the game at MetLife Stadium on January 02, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
He said that the coach was aware of his injury and that when he said that he could no longer play on the injured ankle that Arians “didn’t call for medical attention. Instead, he shouted at me, “YOU’RE DONE!” while he ran his finger across his throat.”
“Coach was telling me that if I didn’t play hurt, then I was done with the Bucs,” said Brown.
He acknowledged that his extreme walk-off from the field was a reaction. “The trigger was someone telling me that I’m not allowed to feel pain. I acknowledge my past. But my past does not make me a second-class citizen. My past does not forfeit my right to be heard when I am in pain.”
Brown wrote, “First they cut me. Now they cage me.”
“They threw me out like an animal and I refused to wear their brand on my body, so I took my jersey off,” he added.
He noted that the Bucs are involved in an “ongoing cover-up” because “what they did on Sunday was not legitimate.”
Brown again expressed his love for fans and said that he looks forward to returning to the NFL next season after undergoing ankle surgery.
In addition to the statement, Brown shared text messages between himself and Coach Arians to prove his point. Coach Arians said immediately after Brown’s abrupt departure on Sunday that he was “no longer a Buc.” The team released Brown on Thursday afternoon.
During a press conference on Thursday, Arians said Brown never told him that he was too hurt to play. Instead, according to TMZ, the wide receiver complained about not getting the ball more.
“While Antonio did receive treatment on his ankle and was listed on the injury report the week leading up to last Sunday’s game, he was cleared to play by our medical team prior to the start of the game,” the Bucs said Thursday. “And at no point during the game did he indicate to our medical personnel that he could not play.”
The Bucs added, “Maintaining the health and wellness of our players is of the utmost importance to our organization.”
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