Antonio Brown's days as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and possibly as an NFL player, are over following his unprecedented midgame exit from the field on Sunday.
The controversial wide receiver removed his shoulder pads and jersey, ran across the end zone and headed to the team's locker room midway through the third quarter of Sunday's 28-24 win over the New York Jets.
"He is no longer a Buc," coach Bruce Arians told reporters after the game. "Alright, that's the end of the story. Let's talk about the guys who went out there and won the game."
The Buccaneers trailed 24-10 and were driving on offense at the time. Arians later told Fox Sports that he twice told Brown to enter the game and the 12-year veteran refused, so Arians told him to "get out."
Fellow receiver Mike Evans tried to keep Brown from taking off his shoulder pads to no avail.
Brown, who had three receptions on five targets for 26 yards at the time, made a "peace out" gesture to the crowd while walking across an end zone while the teams were playing on the other end of the field.
The 33-year-old, who has 42 catches for 545 yards and four touchdowns in seven games this season, has a trail of off-field incidents, distractions and legal trouble dating to the start of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Most recently, Brown was suspended for three games by the NFL for falsifying a COVID-19 vaccine card.
He spent the first half of the 2020 season suspended for multiple violations of the NFL's personal conduct policy. He turned himself in to police in Florida in January 2020 on charges of battery, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and criminal mischief.
He was signed by the New England Patriots but released after one game in 2019 due to allegations of sexual misconduct and threatening text messages sent to his accuser. New England had picked up Brown after he was signed by the Raiders but released due to multiple controversies before he played in a game.
Tom Brady played with Brown in New England and reportedly wanted the receiver to join the Buccaneers last season.
"That's obviously a difficult situation," Brady said after the game. "I think we all want him to — I think everybody should hopefully do what they can to help in ways that he really needs it. We all love him, we care about him deeply. We want to see him be at his best, and unfortunately, it won't be with our team."
The Buccaneers shook off the distraction and scored 18 unanswered points to win the game.
New York led 24-20 in the fourth quarter and chewed up more than five minutes of clock, but rather than attempt a short field goal on fourth-and-2 at the Bucs' 7-yard line, the Jets ran a quarterback draw and Zach Wilson was stuffed at the line.
Brady then ran the two-minute drill to perfection, despite having no timeouts, tossing a 33-yard winner to Cyril Grayson with 15 seconds left. Former Jets running back Le'Veon Bell punched in a two-point conversion for Tampa Bay (12-4) to extend the lead beyond a field goal.
Brady finished 34-for-50 for 410 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
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