Antonio Brown opens up about his NFL controversies and Buccaneers on-field incident: "Sometimes you got to listen to your heart"
Antonio Brown is considered one of this generation's greatest wide receivers and is also known as one of the most controversial players.
Earlier this month, cameras captured Brown taking off his shoulder pads, jersey and undershirt and leaving the field in the middle of a game against the New York Jets after he said the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tried to force him to play through an ankle injury.
In recent years, Brown has carouseled around the league amid several other controversies.
In his first network interview since the incident with the Bucs, Brown told "CBS Mornings" co-host Nate Burleson that he has handled his situations in the way he believed was right.
"I feel like, man, everything I did, I did it because my heart believed that was what I needed to do. And in life, sometimes you got to listen to your heart because that's the only way I could go to sleep at night," Brown said.
Throughout his career, he has played for four teams which includes a nine-season run with the Pittsburgh Steelers that ended abruptly in late 2018
He had a brief stint with the Oakland Raiders but was released after their relationship turned sour.
Shortly after, he signed with the New England Patriots. He only played one game for the team before he was released amid sexual assault accusations by a former trainer. Brown denies that claim and settled a lawsuit with his accuser out of court.
In 2020, he pleaded no contest to felony charges of burglary and battery after an incident involving a moving truck driver.
He was also suspended by the league late last year for after he allegedly "misrepresented his vaccine status" under the league's COVID-19 protocols.
But Brown's most recent fallout with the Buccaneers is not over yet. He told Burleson that days before the on-field incident, he let Bucs coach Bruce Arians and the training staff know that he was "hobbling" after an ankle injury.
On game day he said he realized the pain was too much and he could not play anymore.
"It's, like, the third quarter, on the bench, like, 'Yo, I can't go.' I see the coach. Like, he looks back," Brown said.
Brown said that Arians asked him to go back to the field.
"'Could you go?' I'm, like, 'Nah, I can't go.' So he [was] like, 'Yo, get the f*** outta here, You [are] done,'" Brown said.
Arians dispelled Brown's account and said at a press conference afterward that "you can't force a player to play" and that he was unaware that Brown was hurt. He claims the on-the-field incident wasn't about an injury but was about Brown being angry about something else.
Burleson asked Brown whether rumors about performance-based incentives in Brown's contract played a part in his frustration.
"No, it don't frustrate me. Like, last year I knew coming into the league I was going to have to be on a prove-it deal, earn-it type deal. And, like, if I could play, wouldn't you think I'd be in the game trying to make the money?" Brown said. "My incentives are performance-based. So I have to go out and perform to earn it. So, I mean, I got close but it's like yo, I'm going to risk my ankle."
In that moment, Brown said he didn't want to wear the Buccaneers uniform anymore.
"For the coach...you know, I go to war with. I just text him I'm hurt, that I'm trying to still suck it up, then go to war for you. And, like, here in the midst of the battle, you telling me get the hell out of here, like I'm done," he said.
An MRI from October that was shared with CBS News by Brown and his legal team, allegedly taken by Bucs team doctors, shows loose bone fragments and a detached ligament in Brown's ankle.
Brown said he was supposed to be out for six to 12 weeks but came back sooner than expected.
Shortly after, the Buccaneers terminated the contract it had with Brown.
The incident led some to speculate that Brown had mental health issues or suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE.
Brown and his lawyer said his former team approached him with an offer of around $200,000 to check himself into a "mental health treatment regimen."
Brown denies having any mental health issues. "I never had a issue or problem. I don't take pills. I just got a high IQ," he said.
He told Burleson he has tried therapy through the NFL, but has been unable to find a connection with a therapist.
Despite what people may think, Brown said he is not the common denominator in his controversies.
"I always did what's best for me. I mean, that's what it is," he said.
Lawyers for Brown told CBS News they have overwhelming evidence to pursue legal action against the Bucs.
CBS News reached out to the Buccaneers for comment on Brown's claims and they sent a previously released statement: "While Antonio did receive treatment on his ankle and was listed on the injury report the week leading up to last Sunday's game, he was cleared to play by our medical team prior to the start of the game and at no point during the game did he indicate to our medical personnel that he could not play."
for more features.