Antonio Brown Walk Off

Antonio Brown playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Antonio Brown playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

During The Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs the New York Jets game on January 2, 2022 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Antonion Brown removed his pads, undershirt, and gloves and proceeded to give the crowd a peace sign before walking into the tunnel during an offensive drive. So why did this happen? The background behind this incident has two distinct versions with the first one coming from Brown himself and the second version introduced by the Buccaneers staff and the media of the football world.

The media’s perspective on Antonio Brown;s walk-off:
On the other hand, Brown is known for his poor methods of handling situations, and his dramatic appearances in the press. The incident that took place on January 2, 2022, during a game between the Tampa Bay Bucs and the New York Jets, is a prime example of his lack of public charisma. Brown saw his extravagant walk-off as something that he needed to do for himself, whereas the Bucs franchise and the media as a whole viewed it as a disrespectful stunt.

The Bucs managing staff was so appalled by Brown’s actions that the head coach, Bruce Arians, made it clear that Brown was “no longer a Buc” while speaking with reporters right after the game. He later went on to say, “He [Brown] is no longer a Buc. That’s the end of story,” in order to emphasize the end of Brown’s career within the Tampa Bay community. Not only did the press make it clear that Brown no longer had a place on the Bucs roster, but many sources also shared a different version of background events that supposedly led up to the big finale.

Representatives for the Bucs shared a tweet on the Thursday following the Sunday night game that directly conflicted with all of Brown’s statements, “While Antonio did receive treatment on his ankle and was listed on the injury report the week leading up to last Sunday’s game, he was cleared to play by our medical team prior to the start of the game.” After reinforcing their claims with medical opinions they proceeded to say, “At no point during the game did he indicate to our medical personnel that he could not play.” Bruce continued to contradict the statements of his former player when he told reporters that the conversation before the incident, in which Brown claims consisted of Arians telling him he was done, wasn’t even about his ankle injury. He concluded his recollection of events by saying, “So, you know, he [Brown] left the field and that was it.”

Based on several conferences, interviews, and meetings, both the Buccaneers and the media did not focus on the injury itself, but who Brown was as an individual. Arians voiced his support for Brown, but for his mental health rather than his injury, “I wish him well. If he needs help, I hope he gets some. It’s very hard. Because I do care about him,” Arians said. Overall, the Bucs and their media resources did everything they could to get their perspective across, which was that the allegations made by Brown were false and that him walking off the field had nothing to do with the staff disregarding his injury. In fact, they placed him on an injury report, not because of anything related to his ankle injury, but for personal reasons. They made it clear that Brown was the one who mishandled the situation rather than them.

Antonio Brown’s perspective after walking off the field:
What the media sees as Brown’s epic meltdown in the Buccaneers vs Jets game, he sees as being very necessary. Despite this, he briefly mentions to TMZ that, “It probably wasn’t necessary or professional,” but he still feels very strongly about it. Brown says that there was pressure put on him to play while being injured and in extreme pain, which caused him to walk off. Specifically, he says, “I didn’t quit. I was cut. I didn’t walk away from my brothers. I was thrown out,” in a statement through his attorney shortly after the game.

While the media sees it as him walking off and quitting, Brown says that he was fired. Brown says that he had an ankle injury that he pushed through and played on for as long as he could but that the pain was extreme. During the game, Brown says he took a seat on the sideline, and his coach came up to him very upset and shouting, “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with you?” Brown then proceeded to tell his coach that it was his ankle (even though his coach had already known about this injury). Brown says that his injury had been previously discussed and was well-documented. Brown then goes on to say that his coach ordered him back onto the field. He told him, “Coach, I can’t.” Rather than seeking medical attention for Brown, Brown says his coach shouted at him, “You’re done,” while running his finger across his throat. Brown also says that his coach told him that if he didn’t play while hurt, then he was done with the Bucs. However, Brown does speak highly of the Bucs in one of his statements where he says, “The Bucs helped me return to productive football after I had difficulties that could have ended my career.” One example of what he is referring to here is the fact that back in December, he was suspended for three games after the NFL said he violated Covid-19 protocols and lied about his vaccination status. He then played for the first time back on December 26, a week before this incident. Brown says that the team is trying to make it seem like what happened at that game was a random outburst rather than what it really was. He says, “They are telling people that first I walked off, then I was cut. No. No. No. I was cut first and then I went home… They threw me out like an animal, and I refused to wear their brand on my body, so I took my jersey off.”

Overall, Brown says that this was not just some random game where he decided to take off all his gear and leave the game, but rather that it was due to his coach trying to force him to play while he was in extreme pain. He also wants people to know that it is nothing against his team. He tweeted, “Don’t get it twisted. My brothers have been good to me. From Tom to practice squad, we were a top-level unit. They have been good to me and knew nothing about my talks with coach last week. The team mishandled this situation. They let me down, and more importantly, my teammates.” Brown also says that he is looking forward to next season as he will be getting surgery on his ankle and a suggested return to football, but not for the Buccaneers.

The recent termination of Antonio Brown’s contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is one of many conflicts he has had with the NFL. With this being said, the question of his reputation remains very interesting. Jacob Otto, an NFL follower and enthusiast, was asked how he thought this incident would impact Brown’s reputation. He responded, “His reputation was already bad, so if anything it just made it worse and gave ammunition to his haters.” Jacob went on to explain that he believes Brown’s perspective over that of the media or the Buccaneers, but that it doesn’t change the fact that he mishandled the situation. Jacob said, “Even though he was in the right, he handled it poorly, so now it looks like he is in the wrong.” Jacob was also asked if he thought another team would sign Brown despite the drama that he seems to carry with him: “Honestly, I don’t think he will play in the NFL again,” Jacob said, “Not only because of the drama, but because he wasn’t very effective for the Bucs. He went from being an MVP caliber receiver who led the league in touchdowns and was bound for the Hall of Fame to only catching two to three passes a game.” Lastly, he was asked if Brown’s abrupt exit from the MetLife stadium was unexpected. Jake was certain with his response to this question, “Absolutely not. Everyone knew something like this was eventually going to happen because he has left every team he has played for on bad terms.” Jake concluded his interview by putting the entire situation into perspective, “This just fueled the fire that was burning his career.”

After addressing both perspectives, who would you believe in a situation such as this? Did the media blow this out of proportion to get views? Did the Buccaneers tangle the truth to save their reputation? Or did Brown falsely report this incident to make him look less responsible for his actions?

Background on Antonio Brown
Antonio Tavaris Brown Sr., born July 10, 1988, is an American football wide receiver (formerly an All-Pro wide receiver) who is a free agent. He attended Miami Norland High School and played football at the college level for Central Michigan University. This is where he earned All-American honors in both 2008 and 2009 as a punt returner. He was a sixth-round pick in the NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. From his rookie season in 2010 all the way to the 2018 season, he accumulated more receptions than any other player in the league. He joined the Tampa Bay Bucs in 2020 after a rough period in his career involving several incidents off the field. Brown appeared in seven games for the Buccaneers this season and recorded 42 receptions for 545 yards and four touchdowns. Brown won his first Super Bowl with the Buccaneers after signing with the franchise midway through the 2020 season and re-signed as part of a one-year, $6.25 million deal with a $2 million signing bonus and $3.1 million guaranteed this past offseason, despite undergoing off-season knee surgery.

Antonio Brown takes off uniform, walks into tunnel mid-game. (2022, January 6). NFL.Com.

Hall, J. (2022, January 12). Antonio Brown Now Says In-Game Incident “Probably Wasn’t Necessary.” WBZ NewsRadio 1030.
Helsel, P., & Dasrath, D. (2022, January 6). Antonio Brown says he was pressured to play injured before he walked off. NBC News. Retrieved January 20, 2022, from
Laine, J. (2022, January 6). Antonio Brown releases lengthy statement, tells his side of story days after leaving Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. ESPN.Com.