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Buccaneers Release Antonio Brown Days After Abrupt Exit vs. Jets; Issue Statement on His Ankle Injury

The Buccaneers officially released Antonio Brown on Thursday, days after the wide receiver abruptly left the field during the team's contest vs. the Jets. 

Brown's contract was terminated effective immediately, the team said in a statement.

Late in the third quarter of Tampa Bay's eventual 28–24 win on Sunday, Brown removed his jersey and shoulder pads before running shirtless off the field. Arians said after the win Brown is “no longer a Buc,” due to the third-quarter incident.

On Wednesday night, Brown, via his attorney Sean Burstyn, accused the team of executing an “ongoing cover-up" of the fact that he was effectively cut during the game. 

NFL Network reported Monday that Brown told the Buccaneers coaching staff that he did not believe his ankle was healthy enough for him to continue playing, prior to his mid-game exit. Per NFL Network, when Buccaneers coaches asked Brown in the to enter the game, Brown told them he did not want to play at risk of further injuring his ankle. 

Buccaneers coaches, however, believed Brown was healthy. They told him that if he was not going to go into the game when told then he could not be with the team, per NFL Network.

Arians had said Brown made no mention of an ankle injury before leaving the field, a claim that Brown said Wednesday was “100% inaccurate.”

The team said in a statement Thursday that while Brown did receive treatment leading up to Sunday, he was cleared by the team's medical staff and “at no point during the game did he indicate he could not play.”

“We have attempted, multiple times throughout the week, to schedule an evaluation by an outside orthopedic specialist, yet Antonio has not complied,” the Buccaneers added. “Maintaining the health and wellness of our players is of the utmost importance to our organization.”

Brown returned to action on Dec. 26. He missed two months of the 2021 season due to both an ankle injury and a three-game suspension for misrepresenting his COVID-19 vaccination status.

He had three catches for 26 yards in Sunday's game, prior to the incident.

In two seasons with the Buccaneers, Brown recorded 1,002 yards and eight touchdowns.

Brown shared a photo captioned “Super Gremlin” on both Instagram and Twitter after Sunday's game. He later then took to Instagram to thank the Buccaneers for the opportunity and released a rap song.

“Big MAD (Making A Difference) Thanks for the opportunity,” Brown captioned the Instagram post.

On Thursday, he also took to social media to publish a series of text messages between him and Arians, as well as an exchange with Alex Guerrero, the personal trainer for quarterback Tom Brady.

With Brown released and wide receiver Chris Godwin out for the season, Tampa Bay will rely even more heavily on wideouts Mike Evans, Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller and Breshad Perriman. 

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