Photo: Getty Images
  /  01.06.2022

Antonio Brown has addressed his Sunday (Jan. 2) mid-game departure in a statement and claims the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are involved in a “cover up” over his exit from the team.

On Thursday (Jan. 6), Brown broke his silence about Sunday’s game, which saw him leave the sidelines shirtless during the team’s game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

After the game, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said Brown was “no longer a Buc,” signaling the 33-year-old’s departure from the team. However, Brown now says that he was fired from the team after refusing to play on his injured ankle, which he says coach Arians knew about.

“Because of my commitment to the game, I relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured,” Brown wrote in his lengthy statement. “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. I took a seat on the sideline and my coach came up to me, very upset, and shouted, ‘What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with you?’ I told him, ‘It’s my ankle.’ But he knew that. It was well-documented and we had discussed it.”

Brown said Arians then ordered him to get back on the field.

“I said, ‘Coach, I can’t,'” Brown recalled. “He 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.”

Brown claims the team’s “spin” on events — that he quit the team after a random outburst — is entirely untrue.

“I didn’t quit. I was cut. I didn’t walk away from my brothers. I was thrown out,” he wrote. “Being fired on the sideline for having a painful injury was bad enough.”

Along with the statement, Brown also shared text messages between him and Arians that appear to show their conversation before the game about his injured ankle.

The wide receiver also claims that after firing him, the team is now demanding that he be examined by a “doctor of their choice” as part “of their ongoing cover-up.” However, Brown already had an MRI examination on his ankle, which he says showed “broken bone fragments stuck in my ankle, the ligament torn from the bone and cartilage loss, which are beyond painful.” He’s also set to undergo surgery for the injury.

See more of Brown’s statement below.

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