When it comes to NFL player Antonio Brown, you can always expect him to create headlines wherever he goes. Since leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018, Brown has continued to see his mental health affect his off-field life. From sexual assault claims to trashing fellow teammates in the public, his public image is forever tarnished. But, despite his public image Brown has continued to be a stellar NFL player. Fast forward to this past Sunday, his latest stunt might have cost him the rest of his NFL career.
In the third quarter of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets matchup, Antonio Brown erupted into a major meltdown. Despite what many believed, according to ESPN, Brown was not benched but quit on his team.
During his meltdown, both Mike Evans and O.J. Howard tried their best to calm him down. Brown took off all his football equipment, throwing his shirt into the stands. He proceed to then run across the end zone while both teams were on the field. The security at the MetLife Stadium was stunned as well as the whole stadium. Sources say Brown wanted a ride to the airport but state troopers refused to drive him. He eventually gain access to transportation after changing in the locker room. It’s unclear what led to Brown’s meltdown but was struggling in the game.
During this meltdown, the Bucs were down 24-10, with Tom Brady leading a charge down the field. The Bucs were able to close out the game 28-24. Tom Brady finished with 410 yards while throwing 3 TDs.
After the game, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians was left to deal with the media. Despite the Bucs’ very impressive comeback and stellar play down the stretch, all eyes were on the meltdown of Antonio Brown.
“He is no longer a Buc,” Arians said after the Buccaneers’ victory. “That’s the end of the story. Let’s talk about the guys that went out there and won the game.” When pressed for more details, Arians said, “I’m not talking about him. He’s no longer part of the Bucs.”
Tom Brady spoke about Antonio Brown’s meltdown and encourage others to look for signs of mental illness.
“We all love him. We care about him deeply. We want to see him be at his best. Unfortunately, it won’t be with our team,” Brady said, adding that he will continue his friendship with Brown, and would encourage those around him to help him.
“I think everyone should be very compassionate and empathetic toward some very difficult things that are happening,” Brady continued.
Leveon Bell, Bucs’ newly signee and Brown’s former teammate on the Steelers, spoke about the interaction he had with Brown after the meltdown.
“I found out when we got into the locker room at the end of the game,” Bell said. “I instantly sent him a text, to try to catch up with him real quick. Obviously, he texted me back and I talked to him. He’s still one of my close friends. Like you won’t hear me talking bad about AB at all. Obviously, I understand, things happen, but he’s one of the closest friends I’ve been around, a close teammate, overall a good person. Some bad decision-making at times, but he’s human, not perfect, and we’ll continue to move on without him and keep moving forward.
“It’s tough. Obviously, when I came over here, I was happy to be reunited with him. Unfortunately, it was only two games, but at the end of the day, I wish the best for him outside of football or whatever’s next for him.”
It’s unclear what happened that made Brown decide to quit mid-game and only he can answer that. It seems Brown has yet to heal from whatever demons that’s plagued his career in the last 4 years. With a situation like this, the NFL and NFLPLA must look into taking mental illness as a high priority. Despite all the jokes and memes trending, this is a serious issue and should be taken into account. The NFL and the world have seen Antonio Brown hasn’t been right for a long time and something must have set him off. Rumors are swirling about coaching staff sitting him in order to not pay incentives, but no one knows for sure. While his NFL career may be over, let’s hope his healing is just around the corner.