In the case of Brown, who do you disbelieve more?

by Gary Shelton on January 7, 2022

in general

Brown's departure still making waves./TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Friday, 4 p.m.

Here's the bottom line: I don't totally believe the Bucs, but I don't believe Antonio Brown even more.

Frankly, both of them are getting what's coming to them.

The Bucs? They're embarrassed. They've been betrayed. They have lost one of their dependable performers. Nationally, they seem like a team that played with fire and got burned.

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Brown? He's exposed...again. He's a knucklehead...again. He's unemployed and, quite possibly, at the end of his career. He's been shamed, and fired, and abandoned.

And isn't football fun?

The four-day firing continued on Thursday, with Brown releasing a long-winded statement the pretty much accused Bruce Arians of trying to make Brown play hurt. Arians responded that Brown never mentioned being hurt before dancing off the field. Brown offered up texts that showed that Arians knew that Brown was hurt. Arians responded that he had been cleared to go and never mentioned his bad ankle at the time.

So, as the squabble turns to money, who do you believe?

Maybe neither.

Look, one of the oldest adages in sports is that there is a difference between being hurt and being injured. So in those moments before Brown turned from a pout to a tantrum, certainly Arians should have asked Brown "are you hurt?" Heck, Arians has had enough players come up lame. He should know that's always an option, especially with a player who has been limping.

But here's the tie-breaker. Brown has a long history of being a flaming embarrassment. He's been fired from two teams and cut by another. He 's had serious allegations against him. He's got a resume that suggests he's been a clown show for a long time.

Brown, too, has been injured often enough to know the procedure. If a player is hurt, he goes to the medical staff. They inform the coach he can't go. There are a lot of players-- Shaq Barrett, Leonard Fournette, Jason Pierre-Paul, Mike Evans -- who have done just that. Arians hasn't been accused of trying to massage any of them into the lineup.

Then there is the halftime sulk of Brown, where he talked about not getting enough targets (not about plying too many plays). What does that tell you? Brown was in a foul state of mind, and the world knew it.

"Obviously, we let Antonio [Brown] go today,' Arians said." Just to clear you up on some things that happened – at no point in time during that game did he ever ask the trainer or a doctor about his ankle. That’s the normal protocol – you go through protocols during games. I was never notified of it. So, obviously, that was the disturbing thing when we were looking for him to go back into the game. He was very upset at halftime about who was getting targeted. We got that calmed down, the players took care of that. It started again on the sideline.

"We called for the personnel group that he had played in the entire game, and he refused to go into the game. That’s when I looked back and saw him basically wave off the coach. I then went back and approached him about what was going on. ‘I ain’t playing.’ ‘What’s going on?’ ‘I ain’t getting the ball.’ That’s when I said, ‘You’re done. Get the ‘eff’ out of here.’ That’s the end of it. We are working on Carolina. That’s the end of the story, and hopefully it ends today.”

Brown would have us believe that he was in such pain that he couldn't play, and mean old Arians cut him on the spot, where he did the Electric Boogaloo to the locker room.

"Because of my commitment to the game, I relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured," Brown said." Despite the pain, I suited up, the staff injected me with what I now know was a powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using, and I gave it my all for the team. I played until it was clear that I could not use my ankle to safely perform my playing responsibilities."

Should Arians have been aware that Brown had been injured? Sure. Should he have asked? Probably.

But should Brown have brought it up to a trainer? When he said "I'm not going back in," shouldn't he have added "I'm injured." Certainly. And shouldn't he have at least limped a little bit on his parade to the locker room?

Again, Brown has been hurt before. I'm sure he's heard of painkillers, the league's ugly little secret. It's a little amusing he's now shocked to find there is gambling in Casablanca.

Do NFL teams pressure player to play? Sure they do. Do they bravely ignore. a player's pain? Of course.

But is this a case of that? Or is this one more sideshow by the biggest con artist in the league?

More than anything, I believe that.

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