It was a bizarre incident on January 2, 2022 when wide receiver Antonio Brown began disrobing on the field at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey while the Buccaneers were playing the New York Jets during the third quarter of the game. After removing his shirt and shoulder pads, Brown tossed the shirt and gloves into the stands, did a few jumping jacks in the end zone, flashed a peach sign, and jogged off of the field toward the tunnel and locker room. The Bucs offense was on the field at the time of the incident.
Reportedly Brown had been told to get into the game…twice…and refused prior to walking off the field.
Brown’s team mates Mike Evans and O.J. Howard tried to talk with the player as he was removing his shirt, but to no avail.
The Bucs were trailing the Jets 24-10 at the time but came back to win the game 28-24.
After the game, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians simply stated that Brown was no longer a part of the team. In fact, he was not invited to return to Tampa with the rest of the team; saying, “that’s the end of the story. Let’s talk about the guys that went out there and won the game.”
Sideline reporter TJ Rives reported that Arians had benched Brown prior to the incident.
Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady spoke on Brown after the game noting that it was a “difficult situation” and saying, “we all want him to get help in ways that he needs it. We all love him deeply. Unfortunately he won’t be with our team.” He added that, “people should be compassionate and empathetic with things that are happening.”
This was Brown’s second game back after being off the field for the past few weeks after a three game suspension for violation of Covid protocols – he had a fake vaccination card. Prior to that return, Brown took to Twitter to rant about the media and their “creating drama”.
Antonio Brown has been a part of the NFL for eleven seasons – eight with the Pittsburgh Steelers, one with the New England Patriots, and the past two with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was signed to the Bucs after an eight game suspension for multiple allegations of sexual assault and a burglary conveyance charge which led to a plea of no contest. At that time, Arians noted that if Brown “screws up one time, he’s gone.”