TAMPA. FL. – After signing with the Buccaneers in October 2020, Antonio Brown posted on his Instagram account that he wanted to be “….the best version of myself on and off the field and I will do my best to be a great teammate.”
He was such a great teammate that he literally walked away from his team at MetLife Stadium in the Jersey Meadowlands on Sunday. In the process Brown managed to accomplish what the Bucs refused to: rid the locker room of a giant migraine.
For it was Brown who was suspended by the NFL in early December after obtaining a fake vaccination card so that he could skirt around the league’s Covid protocols. He was such a great teammate, one who tested positive early in the season, that he went out of his way to potentially harm teammates and coaches.
However, the short leash Brown was given upon arriving in Tampa, following multiple conduct-related suspensions handed down by the league during his career, suddenly got longer.
Brown, after all, had talent, Tom Brady and Bruce Arians. Be damned the baggage and suspensions that continued to pile up.
Brown and Brady were teammates in New England for all of one game in 2019. Their time together was brief because the Patriots released the receiver after sexual assault allegations were brought against him by a trainer. Arians was Mike Tomlin’s offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh at a time when Brown was with the Steelers, and before the receiver took to social media to express his desire to leave the Steel City.
Brown debuted with the Bucs a year ago during a 38-3 Week 9 Sunday night clunker at the hands of visiting New Orleans. That was the earliest he could play because in the summer of 2020 Brown received an eight-week suspension resulting from the aforementioned assault allegations.
After signing with Tampa Bay last October, Arians said, “He screws up one time, he’s gone.” Instead, nothing but silence at One Buc Place followed Brown’s transgressions of a month ago.
On Sunday, Brown’s action spoke volumes. He made it very easy on the team by walking away in front of 72,000 pairs of eyes at MetLife Stadium and millions more watching on television, including many Bucs who likely were glad to see a sad act exit stage right.
The Buccaneers will be fine without the receiver, as they complete the regular season and head into the playoffs. What the team and the league need to do is make sure the 33-year-old Brown receives help, and not in the form of another chance to play the game.
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