When former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown stormed off the field by way of a stripping-filled temper tantrum, the consensus around the NFL was that he was very much in the wrong. Most fans sympathized with Bucs head coach Bruce Arians for putting up with the distraction.
Even after Brown claimed Arians and the Buccaneers were attempting to force him to play while injured, no one was buying it. Arians claimed the tantrum resulted from a lack of targets, which made perfect sense considering Brown’s history of being a me-first player.
However, following the latest Bucs controversy during their Wild Card Round win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Brown’s story may actually be developing some legs to stand on.
Bruce Arians was fined $50,000 for hitting his own player
At one point during the Buccaneers’ home playoff game against the Eagles, Arians marched onto the playing field and took a swipe at backup safety Andrew Adams. Arians clocked Adams on top of the helmet and proceeded to yell at him for something related to the end of the play.
Arians was presumably attempting to keep Adams from drawing a penalty after the play was already dead. However, NFL coaches aren’t allowed to run on the field like that, and they’re certainly not allowed to hit their players.
The NFL promptly fined Arians $50,000 for the incident. The Buccaneers head coach is reportedly attempting to appeal the fine. However, the odds of him winning that battle are pretty slim. The video is pretty cut-and-dry evidence. He slapped Adams on the top of the helmet right in front of everyone.
Now, the question is, how does this relate to Antonio Brown and his claims of Arians forcing players to play injured?
Antonio Brown’s claims may have some truth to them
We’ll likely never know what prompted Brown’s on-field tirade against the New York Jets. However, it’s worth acknowledging Brown essentially accused Arians of being an abusive head coach, and now Arians is being fined for literal on-field abuse.
Forcing players to play while injured isn’t the same as hitting a player on the helmet. However, they both fall under the same umbrella of not treating players with the respect they deserve. Arians has long been viewed as a rough-around-the-edges type of coach. However, there’s a point at which it becomes too much.
It’s also worth pointing out that offensive linemen Tristan Wirfs and Ryan Jensen both got injured during the Eagles game. Both players were inserted back into the lineup later in the game before being deemed unable to continue.
Between the Andrew Adams incident and Wirfs and Jensen playing through injury, Antonio Brown’s claims don’t sound as outlandish as they did a few weeks ago.
What next for Antonio Brown, Bruce Arians?
At this stage in his career, Brown seems content with touring around the country as a celebrity. He’s been on a few popular podcasts since being released by the Buccaneers. He’s also tried his hand at rapping once before. It’s hard to imagine him pushing for an investigation into Arians’ actions.
This likely means Arians is safe from further punishment. It’s entirely possible he’s been treating his players poorly. However, as a reigning Super Bowl champion and friend to Tom Brady, the likelihood of him being seriously reprimanded by the NFL is slim.
Arians will likely pay his $50,000 fine, and all of this will be put behind him. However, as fans of the sport, we should all be keeping a far closer eye on Arians and his actions. Complaints about his player treatment are starting to become concerningly frequent.