Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown released a statement Wednesday addressing his midgame exit from the field on Sunday. Brown claims the Bucs tried to force him to play through a painful ankle injury and accused the organization of an “ongoing cover-up.”
“Because of my commitment to the game, I relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured,” Brown wrote in a lengthy statement obtained by CBS Sports. “Despite the pain, I suited up, the staff injected me with what I now know was a powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using, and I gave it my all for the team.”
Brown said he stopped playing because he could no longer “safely perform my playing responsibilities,” and said the pain was “extreme.” Although he does not mention him by name, Brown claims head coach Bruce Arians tried to force him back into the game despite knowing about the injury, and that after he refused, the coach shouted “you’re done.”
Brown then accused Arians of lying, after the game, about not knowing about the ankle injury.
“That’s 100% inaccurate,” Brown wrote “Not only did he know I missed several games with the injury, he and I exchanged texts days before the game where he clearly acknowledged my injury. He obviously knew I was on the injury list. And the GM acknowledged after the game in text messages to my camp that I did tell coach about my ankle pain on Sunday.”
Brown had previously missed five games this season with an ankle injury.
Brown left Sunday’s game against the New York Jets in the third quarter. The receiver stripped off his shoulder pads, jersey and undershirt and jogged into the locker room bare-chested as the game was still going on. “They threw me out like an animal and I refused to wear their brand on my body, so I took my jersey off,” he said in Wednesday’s statement.
After the game, Arians said Brown was “no longer a Buc,” but the receiver is still currently on the team’s roster.
“As part of their ongoing cover-up, they are acting like I wasn’t cut and now demanding that I see a doctor of their choice to examine my ankle,” Brown said in his statement.
He also claims that he has already sought medical attention and that an MRI revealed “broken bone fragments stuck in my ankle, the ligament torn from the bone, and cartilage loss, which are beyond painful.” He said that he has already scheduled surgery to repair the damaged ankle at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery.
“Not realizing that I had already scheduled a surgery at HSS, the Bucs ‘ordered’ me under penalty of discipline and with a few hours notice to show up to a more junior doctor at HSS for another opinion. What a joke,” Brown wrote. “They’re playing like I wasn’t cut, giving me a surprise attack ‘order’ to show up to another doctor with no reasonable notice, and setting this whole thing up as a basis to cut me because what they did on Sunday was not legitimate.”
According to CBS Sports, Arians was asked on Monday if there had been any problems with Brown’s ankle injury and he replied, “None whatsoever. He was cleared to play last week [and] played [well]. And [he was] cleared to play this week.”
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