EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — One day after now-former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown jogged off the field in the middle of the Bucs’ 28-24 win at the New York Jets, resulting in his dismissal from the team, Bucs coach Bruce Arians said he does not regret bringing Brown into the organization.
“I have no regrets. I just hope the best for him,” Arians said Monday, acknowledging that it was difficult for him to watch Brown erupt on the sideline in such a chaotic way. After teammates Mike Evans and O.J. Howard tried to calm him, Brown took off his jersey and pads, threw his gloves and undershirt into the stands, and jogged across the end zone shirtless while both teams were on the field.
A MetLife Stadium security officer told ESPN that they thought it was a fan who jumped onto the field. The officer also told ESPN that once inside the tunnel, Brown asked state troopers for a ride to the airport, but they were unable to fulfill his request, so he received alternate transportation to the airport and did not fly home with the team.
“It was very hard,” Arians said. “I wish him well. If he needs help, I hope he gets some. It’s very hard. Because I do care about him.”
Arians still isn’t sure why Brown, who has a history of volatile behavior and has acknowledged mental health issues, left the field.
“I care about him a bunch. I hope that he’s OK,” he said.
Arians said he did not speak to Brown after he left the field — only before leaving it. He would not disclose the details of that interaction, only that the conversation at no point involved Brown’s injured ankle.
An NFL Network report said that Brown was upset because he didn’t feel he could continue playing on his ankle, which he injured in Week 6, forcing him to miss five games along with three additional games due to his league-imposed suspension for producing a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.
“I don’t know that he was [injured],” Arians said.
Did he say that he was injured? “No,” Arians said.
“It’s pretty obvious what happened. He left the field and that was it,” Arians said. “We had a conversation, and he left the field.”
Brown was cleared to play last week and recorded a 10-catch, 101-yard performance against the Carolina Panthers. But he also tweaked the ankle again. Still, he was medically cleared to play Sunday against the Jets.
Arians indicated that he would never force a player to play through injury and that if a player felt he was too hurt to continue, that player would need to speak to the training staff, who would then alert him.
Arians said he has not talked to Brown or his representatives since his departure.
When Arians was asked if there were precipitating moments that led to Brown’s outburst, Arians said, “None whatsoever.”