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Opinion: I've had enough of the unsympathetic people in Antonio Brown-Buccaneers saga

·5 min read
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  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Antonio Brown
    Antonio Brown
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  • Bruce Arians
    Bruce Arians
    American football player and coach
  • Tom Brady
    Tom Brady
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There is no right or wrong in Antonio Brown’s food fight with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Just a bunch of unsympathetic people who have acted disingenuously – or worse – for a long, long time and are finally getting pretty much what they deserve.

Maybe that’s insensitive, given Brown is claiming he was forced to play hurt by the Buccaneers and coach Bruce Arians. Maybe it’s harsh, given Tom Brady and his snake oil salesman, err, trainer tried to provide a safe harbor for Brown. Maybe it’s knee-jerk, given no one has provided any proof to support or contradict anything that’s been said since Brown skipped out of MetLife Stadium and out on his team Sunday.

I don’t much care.

I’m so sick of AB and his long history of drama, which has left a trail of scorched earth everywhere he’s been. And I’m equally tired of Brady, Arians and the Bucs pretending they’re angels and dodging accountability when they’ve enabled a guy who’s been credibly accused of sexual misconduct and convicted of assault. Not to mention his long history of stiffing those who work for him.

They’re all to blame. Maybe some more than others, but every one of them played a part in this insufferable soap opera that the whole world saw coming 15 months ago.

Antonio Brown warms up before Sunday's game against the Jets in which he left the field in the middle of play.
Antonio Brown warms up before Sunday's game against the Jets in which he left the field in the middle of play.

Brown’s attorney released a statement Wednesday claiming the receiver had an MRI exam on Monday that shows broken bone fragments in his ankle and that he now needs surgery. Brown also accused the Buccaneers of using a “powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller” on him that the NFL Players Association has said should not be used.

Not warmed enough by that dumpster fire, Brown on Thursday morning posted what he claimed were text messages between him and Arians, as well as an exchange with Alex Guerrero, Brady’s longtime trainer, that were supposed to show either their negligence or general awfulness but which revealed a whole lot of nothing.

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Suffice to say forcing any athlete to compete, play or train hurt is wrong and, if Brown is telling anything close to the truth, there need to be serious repercussions for both Arians and the Bucs. That kind of attitude and mindset has done too much damage to too many athletes, and it no longer has a place in any sport.

That said, I find it curious that, after doing jumping jacks in the end zone and jogging off the field, it took Brown four days to disclose this supposedly severe injury. It’s also curious that while he provided specific details about who did the MRI exam and when and where it was done, and released the text showing Arians was aware of his injury before the game against the New York Jets (apparently that official NFL injury report wasn’t enough), neither Brown nor his attorney have offered anything in the way of supporting evidence.

A photo of the MRI exam. A quote from the doctor. Hell, a photo of Brown in a brace or a boot – and, no, the ankle boots he was wearing Sunday as he waited for a ride outside MetLife don’t count.

And if any of you AB defenders try to excuse this by screaming “HIPAA!” I will hurt you because that doesn’t apply here. Or any of the places people are certain it does.

If this were almost any other player, corroboration would not be so important. But this is Brown, who lost whatever credibility he had four teams and a dozen second chances ago.

Sure enough, Arians disputed Brown’s account, saying the receiver had gone through Saturday’s walkthrough, indicating he was good to play, and never expressed concerns about his ankle during the game to Arians, the trainer or the team doctor.

Instead, Arians said Thursday, Brown was pouting at halftime over his lack of targets. Though teammates were able to calm him down, he later refused to go into the game. When Arians asked what was wrong, he said Brown told him, “I ain’t playing” and “I ain’t getting the ball.”

“That’s when I said, 'You’re done. Get the eff out of here,’ ” Arians said. “And that’s the end of it.”

Asked if he’d made a throat-cutting gesture, as Brown claimed, Arians laughed.

“I don’t know. Is that a throat slash?” he said, waving his arm in the universal “Get out of here!” gesture. “That’s all it was.”

Arians also indicated that it was formalities and procedure, not a fear of Brown getting picked up by a team Tampa Bay might see in the playoffs, that kept the Buccaneers from releasing him until Thursday.

While this might seem to make Arians, Brady and the Bucs the sympathetic figures, don’t waste time throwing pity parties for any of them. What, exactly, did they expect? They knew Brown’s toxic history and sold their souls for a Super Bowl ring last season and the hope of another this season all the same.

“I still wish the best for him,” Arians said. “Just, get the help you need.”

Or maybe the Bucs should have made sure Brown did that before they signed him.

Or re-signed him.

Or gave him his 85th chance following his three-game suspension for faking a vaccine card.

Instead, Arians, Brady and the Buccaneers were happy to enable Brown. And now, predictably, it’s blown up in all their faces.

Regardless of what happens next, there will be no winners in this saga. They’re all losers. And I'm tired of all of them.

Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Antonio Brown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers saga not worth caring about