Antonio Brown became the story of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28-24 win over the New York Jets. Lost in his outburst and ultimate removal from the team is the fact that the Buccaneers are 12-4, on a two-game winning streak, and they’ve won six of their last seven.
This is a good team, and perhaps they’ve just been given a little extra spark.
They’re once again getting hot at the right time, and this outburst from Brown may end up being a pivotal moment for the team.
What happened between Antonio Brown and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
After the game, the first public thing that came out from Arians regarding Brown was that he was no longer with the team. That seemed a given, considering the fact that Brown’s antics happened mid-game and while the Buccaneers were on offense.
The NFL will forgive you for many wrongs. Bailing on your team is high on the list of unforgivable sins, though.
According to NFL.com and Ian Rapoport, what happened (per people close with Brown) was that the wide receiver was told to go into the game by the coaching staff, but he declined to enter because he “did not feel like he was healthy enough to play”. He was then told to leave by the coaching staff, and what we all saw was the result of that conversation.
There is a different version of the story, though.
Peter King spoke to Arians and reported that Brown said, “Nope. I’m not going in.”
“I don’t know that he was (injured),” Arians had also said, according to USA Today. “It was pretty obvious what happened. He left the field and that was it. We had a conversation and he left the field.”
However it went down, the end result was Brown storming off the field in a rather public fashion, being dismissed from the team, and leaving the stadium on his own via an Uber.
Bruce Arians delivered bold remarks to the team after Browns’ departure
Arians was relatively short while discussing Brown after the game, and it made sense. That was clearly a heated moment on the sideline, and it largely overshadowed a game that ended up featuring yet another epic Tom Brady comeback win.
The Buccaneers were down 20-24 with just over two minutes left in the game. Brady and the offense (minus Brown, of course) got the ball back on their own seven-yard line after the defense forced a turnover on downs. With no timeouts left, Brady led a nine-play, 93-yard touchdown drive to win the game for the Buccaneers. Especially with the playoffs approaching, it was a massive moment for the Buccaneers. A loss to the Jets would have been a tough look for a Super Bowl contender. That wasn’t the case, though, and what took place instead was another Hallmark moment for Brady.
“It’s all a credit to Tom,” Arians said, per King. “Give the Jets credit. They played their a**** off, but Tom never blinked. He’s the MVP of this league.”
Arians also gave a rousing statement to the team after the win, one that clearly had Brown’s departure in mind but also helped the team look ahead to the future.
“You’re either with us or against us,” Arians told the team. “And I want you to know I’ll take the guys in this locker room and go play anyone in the world.”
This could be a galvanizing moment for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There are moments of adversity like this one for every great team. Sure, they usually they’re not so public, but that’s the risk the Buccaneers took when they saddled up with Brown. He doesn’t have a history of going gently into that good night.
No, it’s not usually a public outburst like this, but every team has a moment when it can choose to go all in or all out. Maybe it’s a tough loss to a rival or getting beat down in front of the home crowd. Sometimes it’s an off-field incident that brings the team together. It can even be something someone else says in the media that causes the locker room to buckle down and come together.
Either way, there’s usually a rallying point with most teams that do something special. There’s usually something they can all get behind and work together for.
Last season, it was clearly living up to Brady’s Super Bowl expectations. He signed with the Buccaneers and instantly made them a serious contender, but he also signed with the expectations of continuing on his winning legacy. He wasn’t trying to coast the last few seasons of his career down on the beach. Brady was Tampa’s north star in 2020. He willed them to the Super Bowl. He was the shepherd, and the team followed him every step to glory.
In some backward way, could this moment become the new rallying cry for the Buccaneers?
They were in the throes of a tight NFL game and watched one of their teammates walk out on them. While Brown was flashing the peace sign to the crowd, he may as well have turned around to the Buccaneers sideline and given it to his former teammates as well.
“You’re either with us or against us.”
That’s such simple language. It’s the stuff of comic books and action movies. With that said, something so simple can become extremely powerful when it’s used to bring a group of people together for a common purpose.
Look out for the Buccaneers. This situation with AB could just propel them to the next level at the right time.