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Tom Brady Calls For Empathy For Antonio Brown After Shirtless Receiver Quits Mid-Game, Gets Kicked Off Buccaneers

BOSTON (CBS) -- In the midst of a surprisingly difficult game against the Jets, Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown checked himself out of action ... in a rather unique way.

Late in the third quarter, with the Bucs trailing 24-10, Brown removed all of his clothing on his upper body and then removed himself from the field. On the way off the field, he gestured to the Jets fans in attendance.

It was a rather shocking sight.

Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians told Jay Glazer after the game that the issue stemmed from Brown refusing to go into the game. After a second refusal from Brown, Arians told the receiver to "get out."

The 33-year-old Brown recently returned to the Buccaneers after serving a three-game suspension for using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. He refused to answer questions about the matter last week after the Bucs' win.

"You guys are all drama," Brown told the media after last week's win. "It's all about football. ... It's a lot of drama you guys create, a lot of drama people create who want stuff from me. That's a part of life, a part of being in the position. I can't control what people want from me, what people write about me."

He was questionable to play on Sunday due to an ankle injury but was able to suit up.

Arians said during the 2020 season that Brown would be released if he "screws up on time." This year, the Bucs kept Brown on the roster even after the COVID-19 vaccination card controversy, with Arians saying he changed his mind after Brown had been a "model citizen" since joining the team.

The Buccaneers ended up winning on a last-minute comeback drive engineered by Tom Brady (without Brown). Arians was asked for a comment on Brown and indicated that the receiver is no longer on the team.

"He is no longer a Buc," Arians said. "All right? That's the end of the story."

Arians was asked a follow-up for more details on what exactly transpired, but he refused to answer.

"I'm not talking about him," Arians said. "He's not a part of the Bucs."

Provided Arians' words are true, this will mark the fourth time Brown has forced his way off a team since the end of the 2018 season. He demanded a trade out of Pittsburgh, forced the Raiders' hand to release him in the summer of 2019, was released by the Patriots after just one game due to a civil case involving rape and sexual assault, and now worked his way off the Bucs' roster for quitting mid-game.

Multiple reports after the game indicated that Brown would not be flying back to Tampa with the team. Another report said that Brown received a police escort to the airport during the game.

Brady, who pushed for the team to sign Brown last year when Arians and GM Jason Licht were hesitant, said after the win that people should be empathetic toward Brown, who clearly needs some help.

"I mean that's obviously a difficult situation and I think we all want him to -- I think everybody should find, hopefully do what they can to help him in ways that he really needs it," Brady said. "We all love him, we care about him deeply, we want to see him be at his best, and unfortunately it won't be with our team. But we have a lot of friendships that will last and again I think the most important thing about football are the relationships with your friends and your teammates, and they go beyond the field. I think everyone should be very compassionate and empathetic toward some very difficult things that are happening."

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