We all saw what happened yesterday in MetLife Stadium. Antonio Brown, for a reason we don’t yet fully know, was seen yelling at someone (presumably head coach Bruce Arians?) on the Buccaneers sideline. Mike Evans attempted to calm him down, but Brown broke away, took off his jersey and pads, and eventually took off his shirt, throwing it into the crowd, and then walked off the field into the tunnel.
He just up and left in the middle of a game. The Bucs were losing to the Jets at the time, but ultimately came back and won in the final minute. Immediately after the game, Arians confirmed the obvious and said that Antonio Brown is no longer on the team. Whether this was because Antonio Brown quit or because he was immediately cut after the incident is unclear.
Arians said that he told Antonio to go back into the game, but Brown refused. Arians said that he again ordered Brown to go back into the game, but got the same response. At that point, Arians said he told AB to either hit the showers or sit on the bench, one of the two, and then I guess that’s when AB finally lost it, disrobed and left the field.
But this is just Arians’ version of the story, and that’s all we have to go by. AB has not yet given his side of the story. He was picked up from the stadium by some dude who posted a video to Tik Tok with AB in the back seat of his car, looking either happy with himself or completely unbothered by the fact that he had just walked out on his team in the middle of a game. He then tweeted out a link to a song he made called “Pit Not the Palace,” and presumably the song was not recorded immediately after his exit from the game–he had it made prior to the game. So it almost seems as if he was potentially planning on quitting football and releasing a rap song. The whole episode was bizarre.
There has been speculation on social media that AB’s freak-out had to do with the performance incentives in his contract:
Immediately after the incident, conspiracy theories started flying that the team was willfully depriving AB of the opportunity to hit these performance incentives, and that’s why he freaked out the way he did.
But I don’t know about this. Teams are usually really good about getting guys the touches they need to hit their incentives. This is a big thing in the league. Coaches and QBs want their guys to hit their incentives and get paid. I absolutely do not believe Bruce Arians was trying to keep AB from hitting his performance incentives. I think Bruce Arians and Brady wanted AB to hit his incentives. They don’t care about the payroll–that’s not their problem at all. So this idea that perhaps the coach was trying to keep AB from getting that extra million bucks, to me that couldn’t be further from the truth.
There has been some talk about a dispute between AB and Arians over AB’s ankle; apparently AB didn’t think his ankle was healthy enough to keep playing, but Arians wanted him in the game anyway and that’s what caused the dispute. But Pat McAfee today on his show, with Ian Rapoport on, discussed this and said there’s no way that’s the case. There’s no way a coach would force an injured player to play.
It’s all very bizarre and we do not have all the facts, so that’s really all I’m going to say as far as speculation about why AB did what he did yesterday.
The two things I want to talk about here are how this affects the Buccaneers going forward in their quest to repeat, and what this means for AB going forward as far as his career. Let’s start with the team.
The Bucs have been dealing with a ton of injuries this season. Chris Godwin is out for the year with a torn ACL. Mike Evans has been banged up. Leonard Fournette is dealing with a hamstring injury but will be off of injured reserve before the start of the playoffs, although there’s no guarantee his hamstring will be healthy enough to play on come the first playoff game on January 15. The Packers have already locked up home field advantage and the first round bye, so the Bucs will not have that week off to open up the postseason. If Fournette isn’t ready to go by January 15, the Bucs will be playing their wild card round playoff game without him.
With Godwin done for the year, though, the Bucs’ offense was really relying on AB to step up and fill that void. Now it’s just a not 100% Mike Evans, Scottie Miller, Tyler Johnson and the guy who caught the winning TD pass from Brady yesterday, Cyril Grayson, at wide receiver. The Bucs still have Gronk, Cam Brate and OJ Howard, who is still in the process of returning to full strength after tearing his Achilles last season. Howard may not be fully recovered until next season, and honestly he may never be the same player again period.
It’s going to be a very heavy lift for the Bucs to repeat this year. Brady is going to have to carry that team like never before. As it stands right now, they’re the #3 seed in the NFC with a record of 12-4. The Bucs should finish 13-4 as they host the Panthers in week 18. Assuming Tampa wins, they will need the Rams to lose to the 49ers in order to jump the Rams for the #2 seed in the NFC. The Rams have beaten the Bucs this year already and so hold the tiebreaker if both teams finish with the same record. The Cowboys, who are the #4 seed right now at 11-5, play the Eagles on Saturday, but they cannot jump the Bucs because the Bucs hold the head to head tiebreaker, having beaten the Cowboys in week 1.
So the best the Bucs can do is get the #2 seed if they win and the Rams lose. If the Rams beat the 49ers, the Bucs will be the #3 seed.
As it stands right now, if the playoffs began next week, the Rams would host the Eagles, the Bucs would host the 49ers, and the Cowboys would host the Cardinals. The way it works is that the Packers will play the winner of the Cowboys-Cardinals game, and the Bucs, if they beat the 49ers, would play the winner of the Rams-Eagles game. The Bucs would presumably have to go on the road to play the Rams in LA, a place the Bucs have already lost once this season. Then they’d either have to go to Green Bay, or they’d host Dallas/Arizona.
There are a lot of variables in play here so it’s hard to really predict what’ll happen until the playoff bracket gets solidified, but the bottom line is that it’s going to be a tough road for the Bucs in the playoffs. They were able to go into Lambeau and win last year in the NFC Championship, but this year there will be fans in the stands, and it’ll be much harder to do so.
I am never going to count out Brady, but it’s going to be a very difficult road to repeat for them.
Now let’s move on to AB himself.
I think at this point, while there’s a lot that’s unknown about what happened yesterday, it’s safe to say that the guy is unfit to play in the National Football League. I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like what he just did. I’ve never seen a player quit on his team in front of the cameras like that. Vontae Davis retired at halftime a few years back, but that was not publicly–it wasn’t in front of the cameras. It was in the locker room at halftime–he had just had enough and peaced out.
There is clearly something wrong with AB. The list of his incidents and mishaps is a mile long. Someone on Reddit was nice enough to compile everything:
•Kicked out of Florida International University after fighting a security guard
•”Don’t touch me. I’m the franchise”
• His second year in the league he took a personal stretch limo to a charity event, had them open every single expensive bottle of wine, rejected it. Refused to pay for it (charity, remember), then left. -credit Nduguu77
• Threw fits over not getting enough targets
• Drove 100 down McKnight Road in Pittsburgh, which has a 45 MPH speed limit
• Trashed a condo and threw furniture out 14th floor window, which almost hit some people, notably a child
• Killed a home aquarium full of piranhas and refused to pay the man who installed the tank
• Refused to play week 17 for the Steelers
• Dyed his mustache blonde
• Refused to pay a chef because he thought he threatened him by placing a fish head in the freezer (the fish head was saved to make a soup)
• Farted on a doctor
• Demanded a trade from the Steelers
• Became “Mr. Big Chest”
• Threw a fit over Juju winning team MVP and trashed him on social media
• (Allegedly) nixed a trade that would’ve sent him to the Bills
• Showed up to Raiders training camp in a hot air balloon
• Held out and refused to show up to training camp because the NFL would not approve his helmet because it was too old for their safety standards
• Froze his feet
• Tried to paint over his old helmet, hoping no one would notice I guess
• Acquired a newer version of the same model of helmet, which the NFL refused to let him use
• Picked out a new helmet and finally showed up to the Raiders
• Got fined by the Raiders for not attending camp
• Tweeted the fines
• Tried to fight Mike Mayock, called him a cracker, had to be held back by Vontaze Burfict, then punted a football down the practice field and said “fine me for that”
• Got fined for that
• Released a video where he used audio of Jon Gruden, who didn’t know he was being recorded, which is illegal in California (full disclosure, Gruden has said he gave permission, but the generally accepted theory is that he said that in the hope that it would help get him to show up to the facility and not alienate him)
• Demanded a release from the Raiders
• Was released
• ”GRANDMA I’M FREEEEEE! FLY LIKE A FREEEEE!”
• Made a lot of crazy tweets saying stuff like ‘Devil is a lie’, a proverb about burning down a village… he made a lot of crazy tweets around this time is the point here
• Liked a tweet about Mayock getting raped in the ass
• Signed with the Patriots
• Moved in with Tom Brady
• The sexual assault allegations came out (the one where he’s getting sued)
• The sexual harassment allegations came out (the one where he’s not getting sued)
• Threatened the woman not suing him in a group text that included his lawyer and had a picture of her kids in the text
• Got released by the Patriots after one week
• Went off on a tweet storm and said a lot of crazy shit about a lot of people, and was supportive of people sending threats to the writer of the article detailing the sexual harassment allegations
• Said he was done with the NFL
• Went back to college via online classes
• Tried to outsource his homework to Twitter
• Wants to come back to the NFL
• Filed several grievances to try and get more than $40 million from the Raider’s and Patriots
• Was ordered to show up for a deposition regarding trashing the condo
• Was accused of “reprehensible behavior” during the deposition Note: I cut the specifics about the deposition so I could fit this as a single comment. You can read more about it if you’re interested, because it, like everything else, is nuts
• Said that the Patriots have to pay him anyway, so they might as well let him play
• Tweeted a couple of bizarre tweets about the Raiders using him for HBO ratings and the Patriots trying to steal his stuff and kept using this weird chicken based metaphor
• Tried out for the Saints and brought an entourage and film crew to shoot a music video with him when specifically told not to do that
• Called out Robert Kraft for his rub and tug massage session in Florida
• Starting training for a boxing match with Logan Paul
• Tweeted “No more white woman 2020”
• The attorney representing him in the suit involving the condo quit
• Used a bunch of slurs and profane language towards cops in an Instagram video he posted
• A police youth football league cut ties with him and returned a donation after the release of the video saying there was a “irreparable rift” between the department and AB
• Threw a bag of gummy candy dicks at the cops in a video he posted
• Got dropped by his agent
• Was involved in a disputed with movers at his home where he allegedly threw rocks at the movers and moving vans. He is currently being investigated for battery by the police.
• His trainer was arrested and he is still a suspect in the battery case.
• Warrant issued for the arrest of AB.
• AB turns himself in to Broward Country Jail wearing this suit
• Rumors spread about AB signing with Tampa or Seattle
• AB announces his retirement (for what I believe is the third time, it’s hard to find a good record of the rest of them)
• Two days later AB wants to play again and is asking for the league to wrap up it’s investigation
• The NFL announces an eight game suspension for AB
• AB signs with the Buccaneers on a one-year deal
• Before he signed with the Buccaneers AB was accused of destroying a surveillance camera at a Florida gated community, throwing bike at a security-guard shack, and is not charged because HOA president “feared” retaliation, per police report
• AB is under investigation by the NFL for the bike throwing incident
• Allegedly acquired fake covid-19 card
• confirmed to have acquired a fake covid-19 card and subsequently suspended for three games
-Walked off during a game against the 4-11 Jets, TB turned the game around and managed to win after AB walked off
-Instantly got released by Tampa because of the previous incident
Edit: Shoutout to u/ForYeWhoArtLiterate for the original list
The guy has caused problems everywhere he’s been. This list doesn’t even include the time he got into trouble for going on IG Live during a Steelers team meeting.
A lot of people are pointing to the terrible blow to the head he suffered in the 2015 playoffs by Cincinnati’s Vontaze Burfict, and saying that might have caused serious brain damage that is making him act this way. And maybe that does have something to do with his behavior getting more erratic over the years, but as we can see he was misbehaving before 2015.
People have also pointed to AB’s childhood and growing up without a father. His father left the family when he was very little, although apparently in recent years AB has reconciled with him to some degree. AB was also kicked out of the home at age 16 after not getting along with his stepfather. He seems to have had a troubled childhood.
We can speculate all day on why he is the way he is. But, and while I want to preface this by saying that everyone is different and everyone reacts differently to things, I don’t think that anything that has happened to AB (the hard hit to the head in 2015, growing up in a broken home) is unique. In other words, it’s not as if no one else has ever had to deal with those things in their life. Plenty of players in the NFL have sustained head injuries and grown up in broken homes, but AB is the only one who behaves this way. Again, everyone is different, but my point here is that AB seems to be unique not in the situation he came from, but how he acts and how he views the world.
You simply cannot get through to the guy. Brady couldn’t. Belichick couldn’t, Tomlin couldn’t, Gruden couldn’t, Arians couldn’t. These are some of the most respected coaches in the league, plus the GOAT who everyone respects. The best you can do with AB is get him to behave for a little while, but he has shown through his history that he will inevitably melt down.
And so I don’t think he can be in the NFL anymore. He is not fit for the NFL. He’s extremely talented–no one denies that–but he is simply not capable of behaving to the standard NFL players are expected to meet. No one has been able to get through to the guy.
Allowing him to have another shot in the NFL is simply enabling him. It reinforces in his mind the idea that nothing he’s done in his life is actually wrong. He’ll do something bad, get a slap on the wrist, and then get another shot to play in the NFL again, which probably confirms in his mind that all is forgiven and that he’s all good once again.
But the reality is, he needs to get himself sorted out. It is not normal for a person who has everything to behave the way he does. Clearly there is something wrong with him.
We have had divas in the NFL before, but AB is completely beyond that. To call him a diva is a gross understatement. TO and Ochocinco and Randy Moss were considered divas, but that’s mainly because they were eccentric and often pushed the line when it came to trash talking and celebrating touchdowns. None of those guys ever went anywhere near as far as AB has gone. I can’t remember any incident where those guys got into legal trouble, and there was never even a hint of them allowing their off-field behavior to affect their teams on the field.
The truth is that there is no situation AB can go to in the NFL where he will not become a problem once again. If Belichick, Tomlin, Brady, Gruden and Arians couldn’t get through to him, no one can.
I don’t know the guy personally, so I can’t really comment on what’s going on inside his head, but from the outside, it looks as if he’s on a trajectory in his life that will end with him being in prison.
People rarely change the trajectories of their lives unless they’re forced to, and generally the only things that force them to change are when their income is in jeopardy, or when their lives are in jeopardy. But oftentimes even these things do not even force people to change–drug addicts come to mind here. Drug addicts will use drugs until they’re homeless and living on the streets, and even then they’ll continue using drugs until they die.
I don’t think AB is a drug addict. I think he’s a massively narcissistic nutcase who is completely incapable of self-reflection and remorse. A person like that will not admit they have a problem. They think everyone else is the problem. And so until they no longer view the world this way, they will never change.
Maybe being out of the NFL and losing out on all the millions will be a wake-up call for him. If AB runs out of money, that will probably cause him to reevaluate things real quickly.
The issue is that this guy will constantly have people throwing money at him even if he’s out of the NFL. It’s almost guaranteed he’s going to fight one of the Paul brothers in the next year or two. He’s going to be able to make money even being out of the NFL, and I think that’s actually bad for him because as long as he’s rich he’ll never accept the fact that he has mental problems.
AB is not a drug addict, nor has he ever had any particularly violent incidents. Sure, he’s got the rock throwing incident, and he does have some sexual assault allegations against him, but I don’t think you can say he has a history of violence. If AB was getting into fights in clubs and bars routinely, and if he had a history of being caught with illegally-owned guns and stuff like that, it would be a lot more worrying. But I don’t think AB is a violent person, and that’s at least a good sign.
He is absolutely not anything like Aaron Hernandez, or Lawrence Phillips. It’s tough to say whether or not AB is a menace to society and he’s unfit for society, because while he’s definitely broken a lot of laws and shows a history of erratic, antisocial and even downright reprehensible behavior, it’s not as if he’s an imminent danger to the safety of others. In other words, I wouldn’t invite a guy like Hernandez or Phillips (when they were alive) into my home because they’re violent criminals. I wouldn’t invite AB into my home because he’s a crazy person.
In fact, I might actually invite AB into my home if it was a big party or something, because it would be a crazy story and honestly I’ve always thought that as much of a knucklehead as he is he’s actually kind of hilarious and would probably be a riot at parties. And that’s what makes it so complicated: because at the end of the day, he really isn’t all that bad when you compare him to some of the worst players that have ever played in the NFL. He’s not even close to the worst of the worst.
And yet on the other hand, no normal, well-adjusted person would do what he just did yesterday. The guy clearly does not value his career in the NFL, and does not fully understand how fortunate he is to be one of the top 0.1% of both athletes and income earners in the country. He just threw that all away and didn’t even seem to care.
He posted a damn fit pic almost immediately after leaving the stadium!
This is him literally waiting for his ride outside of MetLife Stadium.
This is not normal behavior. He gives off the impression that he doesn’t even realize that he’s done something wrong.
I don’t know, man. On the one hand, he’s an unstable individual with a tenuous at best grip on reality. But on the other hand, he’s far from the worst person who’s ever played in the NFL. It’s not like he’s a violent criminal who is a danger to society.
I don’t know. But clearly playing in the NFL is not good for him.