Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown finally has broken his silence regarding his situation with the team. And he has plenty to say.
Regardless of whether he actually wrote some, all, or part of the statement, it has been approved by him for release on his behalf. Among other things, he accuses Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians of pressuring Brown to play while injured.
“Because of my commitment to the game, I relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured,” Brown said. “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.”
Brown says he played “until it was clear that I could not use my ankle to safely perform my playing responsibilities,” and that “the pain was extreme.”
Brown contends that he took a seat on the bench, and that Arians approach him “vey upset” and shouted, “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with you?” Brown claims that he told Arians that Brown’s ankle was bothering him.
According to Brown, Arians continued to press Brown to play. Brown said he couldn’t. Brown claims that Arians shouted, “You’re done!” and made a throat-slash gesture.
“I didn’t quit,” Brown said. “I was cut. I didn’t walk away from my brothers. I was thrown out.”
Brown’s statement also contends that G.M. Jason Licht confirmed in text messages to Brown’s representatives that he did indeed tell Arians about ankle pain during the game on Sunday.
“I acknowledge my past,” Brown said, “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.”
While many things regarding Brown’s situation remain unclear, his statement provides one key aspect of clarity. He’s having surgery on the ankle, and he won’t be playing again this season. Once that settles in, everything else is just details. He was under a one-year deal with the Buccaneers. He’ll become a free agent in March. And if he eventually signs with anyone, it won’t be the Bucs.
Or the Steelers.
Or the Raiders.
Or the Patriots.