Just in case the headline wasn't clear enough: Bruce Arians doesn't care what people think about his decision to keep Antonio Brown.
"I could give a sh-- what they think," Arians told reporters Monday. "Only thing I care about is this football team and what's best for us."
Arians made the decision to keep Brown (and Mike Edwards) after the former All-Pro was suspended three games for submitting a fake COVD-19 vaccination card to the team. Arians decided to wait until after the Saints game before publicly announcing the decision, which naturally led to speculation as to whether or not Brown would return.
Part of those speculating pointed back to Arians' comments in October of 2020, when the Bucs first signed AB. At the time, Arians said that Brown "is gone" if he screws up "one time". Therefore, many assumed that Arians' words still held weight in December 2021.
That obviously turned out to be wrong and Arians' decision to reverse course has everything to do with what he's seen out of Brown since he joined the Bucs. Fake COVID vaccination card notwithstanding, of course.
"Well, the history has changed since that statement," said Arians. "A lot of things went on last year that I was very proud of him and I made a decision that this is best for our football team."
In terms of being the best decision for the team, the timing couldn't be better. It was reported Monday that Chris Godwin is out for the year with a torn ACL and Mike Evans is week-to-week with his hamstring injury. There's a chance that Evans could play in Week 16 against the Panthers, but that remains to be seen.
In other words: The Buccaneers need Brown's services. And honestly, the whole situation reeks of deja vu, because injuries to Evans and Godwin are why the Bucs brought AB on board to begin with.
"It was," Arians said when asked if the reason why the Bucs initially signed Brown in 2020 was because of injuries. "Chris [Godwin] was hobbling and had the finger. Mike [Evans] was hurt. Hopefully we'll get Mike back soon. I don't know when, but hopefully soon. But yea, that's one of the reasons why we have AB."
Love it or hate it, Brown is here to stay in 2021. And from the current looks of things, the Bucs will be counting on him more than ever to produce.
And based off Arians' comments, that's all that matters at this point.
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