Antonio Brown is speaking out for the first time since his abrupt exit from the field Sunday night (January 2).
The Tampa Bay wide receiver released a statement Wednesday (January 5) through his attorney, Sean Burstyn, clarifying why he took off his jersey and ran across the field during the game against the New York Jets.
According to the statement, Brown says he didn't quit, but left because Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians cut him from the team.
"First of all, I'd like to express my gratitude to the Bucs, fans, and my teammates," the statement begins. "The Bucs helped me return to productive football after I had difficulties that could have ended my career. We worked together to resolve those difficulties, and I will always appreciate that," he continues.
"I make mistakes. I'm working on myself and I have positive influences around me. But one thing I don't shy away from is playing hard on the field," Brown added.
"No one can accuse me of not giving it my all every play," Brown said, adding later that he "relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured."
Brown said that before the suiting up for the game, team staff "injected me with what I now know was a powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller the NFLPA has warned against using."
"I played until it was clear that I could not use my ankle to safely perform my playing responsibilities," the 33-year-old said.
When Brown sat out from the "extreme pain" he said Arians came over to him "shouting, 'What's wrong with you?'" knowing that it was his ankle.
"It is well-documented and we discussed it," Brown's statement reads. When the wide receiver said he couldn't get back on the field, Brown said Arians "didn't call for medical attention" but "instead, he shouted at me, 'YOU'RE DONE!' while he ran his finger across his throat."
"Coach was telling me that if I didn't play hurt, then I was done with the Bucs," he said. "I didn't quit. I was cut. I didn't walk away from my brothers. I was thrown out."
Brown went on to dispute Arians' claims that he didn't know about the player's ankle and accused higher ups of an "ongoing cover-up."
On Thursday (January 6), Brown tweeted screenshots of a text message exchange with Arians, directly disputing claims the head coach didn't know about his injury.
"Health over wealth # barbarian." Brown captioned the screenshots.