In the third quarter of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Jets, Antonio Brown went viral, not for a play on the field, but for a dramatic exit from the field and rather the stadium in the middle of a game.
It’s not 100% clear why the star wide receiver took off his jersey and pads on the sideline during the game, then proceeded to walk to the locker room waving his arms in the air pumping up the crowd. As expected, the players and coaches were tight-lipped about details surrounding the incident after the game.
Video of Antonio Brown leaving the field after taking off his jersey and shirt and throw it into the stands. pic.twitter.com/1hwNYei5Fq
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 2, 2022
After the game, head coach Bruce Arians told reporters that the veteran receiver was “no longer a Buc” without going into much detail beyond that.
Arians on AB "He is no longer a Buc" pic.twitter.com/SXkvWvs2Ly
— Billy M (@BillyM_91) January 2, 2022
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady offered a more empathetic response to reporter’s questions post-game, seemingly alluding to the fact that there was more going on behind the scenes than people knew.
“Everyone should be compassionate and empathetic to some difficult things that are happening,” the quarterback said.
— xz – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) January 2, 2022
Tom Brady offers empathy while some on social media lash out
The plea from Brady carries extra weight over the outside-looking-in comments from sports reporters and those alike online because Brady has a long-standing relationship with Brown carried over from their time together playing for the New England Patriots.
Brady is pretty much the sole reason that Brown even had a job playing for the Bucs. The quarterback fought for Brown to be signed by the Bucs, even after coach Arians said that the team would not consider signing Brown. Brady even visited him at his Miami home while Brown was unsigned, all while maintaining public support of Brown in the midst of a sexual assault case and eight-game suspension from the NFL.
2020 Only Want To Play With @TomBrady Or No Play
— AB (@AB84) January 5, 2020
There are many who think that Brown has never been the same mentally ever since taking a devastating hit to the head from Vontaze Burfict back in 2016.
Some wonder whether Brown has CTE
Many think that the hit led to the beginning of CTE-like symptoms exhibited by Brown in the subsequent years.
CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, is a degenerative brain disorder often discovered in athletes who have a history of brain injury or trauma. The NFL has been under increased public scrutiny over the last decade after many of its retired players have been found to have extreme cases of CTE.
Recently, former NFL player Phillip Adams was found to have stage 2 CTE after he shot and killed six people before taking his own life earlier this year. CTE attacks the frontal lobes of the brain. Symptoms include major changes in cognitive processing as well as mood instability.
In an interview with USA Today following the April tragedy, Adams’ sister, Lauren Adams, said, “His mental health degraded fast and terribly bad. There was unusual behavior. I’m not going to get into all that (symptoms). We definitely did notice signs of mental illness that was extremely concerning, that was not like we had ever seen. … He was struggling with his mental health.”
Brown has had his fair share of on the field and off the field incidents since being in the NFL. An ongoing Reddit thread has listed almost all of the incidents Brown has been involved in. It seems like this will be his last stop as far as playing in the NFL, and honestly it is probably for the best. Now the NFL should be responsible for doing whatever it can to provide Brown with the resources to seek mental help.
Author’s note: This article is not a diagnosis of CTE for Antonio Brown, only an acknowledgement of behaviors that are often attributed as symptoms of CTE. Nor is it an excuse for behaviors and incidents involving Brown throughout the years, rather a possible explanation for the increased bizarre behaviors over his career. I hope Antonio is able to receive the help he obviously needs.