Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown will pursue legal action against the Bucs for money he and his lawyer believe is owed to him by the team following his release in early January.
Brown and his lawyer — Sean Burstyn — appeared on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” on Tuesday, saying that they may also pursue a civil lawsuit for defamation. Burstyn claims Tampa Bay defamed his client when they said Brown had a “mental health episode” during the Bucs week 17 win over the New York Jets.
“Antonio was defamed by this spin that he had a mental health episode that makes him someone who’s not reliable to do a good job on the field,” Burstyn said. “So we’re pursuing internally all of our rights under the CBA and considering them and maybe stepping outside of the CBA.”
“All of our options are on the table. We’re going to hold to account the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bruce Arians, the general manager to the extent anyone who’s responsible for this spin that Antonio isn’t reliable to do a good job playing football because he doesn’t have the mental fortitude to do it. They’ll be held to account,” Burstyn continued.
Toward the end of the third quarter against the Jets, Brown abruptly exited MetLife Stadium after taking off his shoulder pads and shirt on the sidelines.
When asked after the game what happened to cause Brown to leave the field, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians wouldn’t say. Instead, Arians informed reporters that Brown was “no longer a Buc,” leaving fans of the game to wonder what transpired to set Brown off to the point where he would quit his team mid-game.
A few days later, Brown, who was listed as “questionable” on Tampa Bay’s injury report due to an ankle injury leading up to the game against the Jets, claims that he was cut mid-game after informing coaches that he was not healthy enough to play.
“Because of my commitment to the game, I relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured. Despite the pain, I suited up, the staff injected me with what I know was a powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using, and I gave it all for my team,” Brown said in a statement through his attorney. “I played until it was clear that I could not use my ankle to safely perform my playing responsibilities.”
After playing for nearly three quarters, Brown said the pain became “extreme,” forcing him to take a seat on the sidelines.
“I took a seat on the sideline and my coach came up to me, very upset, and shouted, ‘What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with you?’ I told him, ‘It’s my ankle,’” Brown said in the statement. “But he knew that. It was well documented and we had discussed it. He then ordered me to get on the field. I said, ‘Coach, I can’t.’ He didn’t call for medical attention. Instead, he shouted at me, ‘YOU’RE DONE!’ while he ran his finger across his throat. Coach was telling me that if I didn’t play hurt, then I was done with the Bucs.”
Arians denied being aware of Brown’s injury.
“I don’t know that he was (injured),” Arians said. “It was pretty obvious what happened. He left the field and that was it. We had a conversation and he left the field.”
Tampa Bay lost to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, 30-27.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected]
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