So what will the Buccaneers do about receiver Antonio Brown in the aftermath of his three-game suspension for submitting a fake vaccination card?
If any of the various sports books were setting odds, “absolutely nothing” would be at -275.
They want him. They need him. They’re better when he plays. Besides, Tom Brady would never tolerate a decision to cut him, not now.
Of course, that’s not the standard that the team established for Brown when it signed him after he served an eight-game suspension in 2020 for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy. As coach Bruce Arians told Peter King at the time regarding Brown, “He screws up one time, he’s gone.”
Well, Coach, Brown has screwed up one time. And he has screwed up in a big way. So will he be gone?
It will be interesting to see whether Arians gets that question from reporters, the next time he faces them. He’ll likely find a way to word-salad his way around it, explaining that he said what he said when Brown had never played for the team, and that in the 14 months since his arrival he has been a model citizen, yada yada yada.
Yeah, he’s been a model citizen. Except, of course, the time when he lied about his vaccination status and necessarily endangered the health of people like Arians, a three-time cancer survivor, and 83-year-old offensive consultant Tom Moore.
Coaches rarely take a stand on principle when it comes to talented players deemed critical to the cause. If Brown were running sixth on the depth chart, he’d be gone. But they know what he can do, and they know what he means to the team. For that reason, Arians will say whatever he has to say to handle whatever questions he may get about “he screws up one time, he’s gone” before getting back to the task of trying to win another Super Bowl, which always takes precedence over principle. Even when the principle at issue can literally be a matter of life and death.