Despite the vast array of important games, sensational plays, and season-defining moments that came and went in Week 17 in the National Football League, not a single moment was bigger than an exchange and emotional response on the sideline. It was the moment that wide receiver Antonio Brown decided to leave the game before the rest of his teammates on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In case you missed it, Brown, who is known as the league’s single most polarizing and mercurial player, had some sort of exchange with teammates and then walked off the field. In the process, he removed his helmet, pads, and jersey and was half-naked by the time was ready to get out of the stadium. This is in the middle of a game, and even security guards thought he was a fan who’d jumped onto the field.
In case you missed the pageantry, you can see the primary events here:
From there, according to reports, Brown left via a personal driver and was subsequently dropped from the Bucs. Head coach Bruce Arians said Brown is no longer a member of the team’s roster and that he hopes he gets help. That much was echoed by quarterback Tom Brady as well, who said, “I think everyone should be very compassionate and empathetic toward some very difficult things that are happening.”
Some players for the Kansas City Chiefs spoke out with hope and in support of former Buccaneers wideout Antonio Brown.
However, that’s not the way things have played out in the ongoing conversation. Brown’s history in the NFL is riddled with poor decisions and dramatic behavior. He’s also proven to be dangerous to others. From sexual assault allegations to admitted battery and burglary charges, from reckless speeding to throwing furniture outside from 14 stories up, Brown has long lost any benefit of the doubt.
That said, there’s an undercurrent that runs a different direction—not one of support for Brown’s behavior so much as one admitting there’s something wrong and wanting to help provide guidance and wisdom. It’s a sentiment being found from several of Brown’s peers, including Chiefs wide receiver Daurice Fountain who took to Twitter to call out those who are “making fun” of Brown.
Former Chiefs pass rushing legend Tampa Hali echoed Fountain’s sentiments, reminding fans that everyone but Brown and a few others are on the outside of what happened and simply do not know the particulars.
Former Chiefs lineman Jeff Allen agreed with both with a simple statement wishing Brown well.