NFLPA plans to investigate Antonio Brown’s claims against Buccaneers

January 6, 2022
WR Antonio Brown is in his second season with the Buccaneers.
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The NFL Players Association plans to investigate Antonio Brown’s allegations that Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians and the organization are trying to cover up incidents of mismanagement, which led to Brown’s abrupt exit from the team on Sunday.

NFLPA spokesperson George Atallah told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday that because Brown has yet to contact the players’ union, details remain scarce. However, NFLPA officials plan to follow standard operating procedure and investigate Brown’s claims of medical mismanagement just as they would anytime a player makes such allegations. 

Brown removed his jersey and pads in the third quarter of Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, tossed them aside and walked off the field following a conversation with Arians. He released a statement Wednesday night through his attorney claiming the coach fired him for refusing to play while injured.

Brown also said he learned that the Buccaneers had injected him with a “powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using.”

Following the game, Arians declined to share much insight into the incident but said Brown was no longer a member of the team. The following day, Arians denied he had any knowledge that Brown was injured and said the wide receiver had been cleared by the medical team to play.

Brown, in his statement, called Arians’ comments “100% inaccurate.” He also said an MRI on his ankle on Monday revealed broken bone fragments stuck in his ankle and that he will be having surgery. 

It is unclear when an NFLPA investigation would officially commence, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether the NFL would take any action.

Arians said Brown is no longer a member of the team, and Brown has confirmed that. However, the Buccaneers have yet to officially release him or place him on any type of exempt list. Sunday’s exit was the latest in a long line of incidents that have littered the career of the four-time first-team All-Pro selection and seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver.

In 2018, while a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Brown was benched in Week 17 for a blowup with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. 

In February 2019, after being found guilty of reckless driving, Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders. He never played a regular-season game for the team, however, after missing time because of frostbite sustained from using a cryotherapy machine without proper footwear. He also had a dispute with the team because he preferred to wear a helmet that didn’t meet the NFL’s health and safety standards. 

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Brown refused to practice, publicly berated Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and was fined before the Raiders finally released him. 

He then signed with the New England Patriots but lasted just one game because Brown, already being sued by one woman alleging sexual assault, had sent threatening text messages to a second woman who was alleging sexual misconduct.

Brown was suspended eight games in 2020 for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy after an arrest in connection with charges of felony assault and battery stemming from an incident with the driver of a moving truck. 

He eventually signed with the Buccaneers with the 2020 season in progress and helped them win the Super Bowl in February. He was suspended three games this season for presenting a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.

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