One of the most memorable parts of the 2021 NFL season might be when Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown took off his pads and jersey midgame against the New York Jets in Week 17 and ran off the field.
Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans spoke to Yahoo Sports recently about that Sunday, and he said Brown was wanting the ball before his dramatic exit.
“What I remember is we were trying to get him to come back in the game,” Evans said. “He was saying he wanted the rock, and I mean rightfully so, we should have got him the rock — I mean he’s an unbelievable player. Like ‘Yo, come in the game AB.'”
Evans said both he and Brown were on a pitch count since they were coming back from injuries, and the coaching staff was trying to get Brown to return to the game. Evans went in for his reps, and then came back to the sideline to see Brown still agitated, Yahoo Sports reports.
“So I go back on the drive. I do my two plays. I come out. And then I see BA still trying to get him to come in the game,” Evans said. “And they had like a falling out somehow. And AB goes off. And he’s about to take his pads off. And I’m trying to grab his pads and tell him like, yo, big bro — because me and him have a relationship.”
With three minutes left in the third quarter, Brown was visibly frustrated among his spectating teammates, which spawned fellow receiver Evans to try cooling off the contentious wideout.
Brown continued to lash out and skipped his way en route to the locker room — across the end zone as he waved away to jeering Jets fans … leaving for good.
“And I don’t want him to go out like this,” Evans continued. “Like we obviously we need him, so I’m telling him, big bro, we need you. The season’s almost over. If you don’t want to be here the next year, you can leave, you know what I’m saying? Like obviously I just didn’t want him to go out like that. So I’m telling him, please don’t go out like this. And they’re calling me to come back in the game. So I just left him alone like, all right.”
After the situation, Brown alleged that head coach Bruce Arians came up to him on the sideline after the receiver said he couldn’t play on his ankle anymore.
In an appearance on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” Brown’s attorney Sean Burstyn said they will pursue money for Brown’s ankle surgery and money they feel he is owed by the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement.
CBS Sports reports that Brown’s exit was probably due to a combination of different factors, and how his ankle injury was handled was certainly a primary one, but it sounds like the pitch count and target share could have been an issue as well.
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