After Antonio Brown, wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, twice refused Coach Bruce Arians calls to get back into the game on Sunday, he stripped off his gear and walked away from his career shirtless.
Brown, 33, was appearing in his second game since a 3-game suspension for misrepresenting his COVID-19 vaccination status. Tampa Bay was trailing the New York Jets 24-10 in the third quarter, and Brown had three receptions for 26 yards when he made a shirtless exit into the tunnel. After his exit, Tom Brady secured a 27-24 win with 15 seconds left on a 33-yard touchdown play to Cyril Grayson.
At the end of his Pittsburgh Steelers tenure in 2018, Brown threatened to punch a reporter who wrote about him. Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin benched Brown for a crucial Week 17 game after Brown, angered because teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster won the team MVP award, skipped Saturday preparation. The move precipitated an offseason trade to the Oakland Raiders. Brown imploded during training camp with the Raiders after he refused to comply with new NFL helmet specifications, skipping practices and pitching fits until the Raiders released him before he played one regular season game.
The New England Patriots picked him up and Brown played one game before chaos ensued.
Tom Brady led the attempts to rehabilitate Brown after two women accused him of sexual assault and an NFL half-season suspension for a battery charge against a moving company employee.
Despite Brady’s offer to let Brown live with him, Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft released him.
At Brady’s urging, the Bucs signed Brown last summer under an admitted zero-tolerance policy for bad behavior. Then came a fudged vaccination card.
Brady still provided moral support for Brown following the mid-game debacle, calling for empathy and compassion “toward some very difficult things that are happening.”