Antonio Brown and the Buccaneers may not be in business together any longer, but that won’t stop this story from connecting them for weeks to come.
The Buccaneers won a nail-biter yesterday against a Jets team that showed up surprisingly well, but all of that is lost with the emergence of one of the biggest NFL stories of the season centered around Antonio Brown.
The star wide receiver already made waves several weeks ago when it was discovered that he used a fake COVID-19 vaccination card at the start of the season, and his suspension led to a lot of tension within the fanbase.
Should Tampa cut him? Should Bruce Arians stand by his star?
The Bucs made the football choice and kept Brown on their roster, and they were rewarded with a stellar performance against the Panthers. Brown was in a similar position to make an impact versus the Jets, but everyone and their mother knows how that went.
Brown is off the team, and many believe the Buccaneers had no choice but to cut the player, but context is key. Both sides are telling very different stories on the matter, and little is lining up.
Greg Auman and Jay Glazer reported that Arians wanted Brown in the game, Brown said he couldn’t due to an injury, and then the coaches decided that he would be done for the day, which led to the blow-up. It seems strange that Brown would react in that way to a simple situation, but the counter reports don’t make much sense either.
Ian Rapoport told the other side of the story, presumably from Brown’s agent, and explained that the coaching staff was forcing Brown to go in despite the injury, and then cut him when he refused to play with his ankle injury.
While we may never know exactly what happened on that sideline, the first story is still the one that seems more believable, although there are still some question marks. It seems incredibly unlikely that any coach would force anyone to play through an injury, especially with the playoffs coming up, and to cut someone on the field for refusing to play through an injury is equally strange.
Unfortunately, AB has lost the benefit of the doubt in situations like this, and his response to the decision did little to build any sympathy.
The one area where all fans should be able to agree with ease is that this decision had nothing to do with money. A small but faithful group of Brown supporters believe that he left the team in the middle of the game because Bruce Arians and the Buccaneers coaches didn’t want him to meet his incentive targets for a bigger payday, and pulling him from the game was their way of sticking it to him.
This argument doesn’t make an ounce of sense for one second.
For starters, why would the Buccaneers sacrifice a win and playoff standing for what totals to be one million dollars? The Bucs were fine to feed Antonio Brown last season to help him reach these goals and they gave him ten receptions in a blowout win last week, a game where he wasn’t needed after the first half. Wouldn’t that have been the better time to put Brown on a pitch count, rather than in a winnable game with playoff implications on the line?
It also makes little sense when you think about the money the Bucs make off of Brown from his image and the success he brings to the team. AB absolutely helped the Buccaneers win the Super Bowl last season, and the money made from that alone far exceeds the million dollars the Bucs would’ve owed Brown if he met his targets.
Sometimes, people just want to argue to argue. The information we seek on this topic may never come to light, but it’s over, and the focus now is on staying ready for the playoffs. Hopefully Antonio Brown can find peace with whatever his next step is.
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