EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- One day after now-former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown jogged off the field in the middle of the Bucs' 28-24 win at the New York Jets, resulting in his dismissal from the team, coach Bruce Arians said he does not regret bringing Brown into the organization.
"I have no regrets. I just hope the best for him," Arians said Monday, acknowledging that it was difficult for him to watch Brown erupt on the sideline in such a chaotic way.
After teammates Mike Evans and O.J. Howard tried to calm him, Brown took off his jersey and pads, threw his gloves and undershirt into the stands, and jogged across the end zone shirtless while both teams were on the field.
A MetLife Stadium security officer told ESPN that they thought it was a fan who jumped onto the field. The officer also told ESPN that once inside the tunnel, Brown asked state troopers for a ride to the airport, but they were unable to fulfill his request, so he received alternate transportation to the airport and did not fly home with the team.
"It was very hard," Arians said. "I wish him well. If he needs help, I hope he gets some. It's very hard. Because I do care about him."
Brown has a history of volatile behavior and has discussed his mental health in the past. Arians said Monday that he still isn't sure why Brown left the field.
"I care about him a bunch. I hope that he's OK," he said.
Arians said he did not speak to Brown after he left the field -- only before leaving it. He would not disclose the details of that interaction, only that the conversation at no point involved Brown's injured ankle.
An NFL Network report said that Brown was upset because he didn't feel he could continue playing on his ankle, which he injured in Week 6, forcing him to miss five games along with three additional games because of his league-imposed suspension for producing a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.
"I don't know that he was [injured]," Arians said.
Did he say that he was injured? "No," Arians said.
"It's pretty obvious what happened. He left the field and that was it," Arians said. "We had a conversation, and he left the field."
Brown was cleared to play last week and recorded a 10-catch, 101-yard performance against the Carolina Panthers, but he also tweaked the ankle again. Still, he was medically cleared to play Sunday against the Jets.
Arians indicated that he would never force a player to play through injury and that if a player felt he was too hurt to continue, that player would need to speak to the training staff, who would then alert the coach.
Arians said he has not talked to Brown or his representatives since his departure.
The Bucs did not officially release him on Monday or Tuesday, and there are ongoing discussions with the NFL about how to move ahead with the situation, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
When Arians was asked whether there were precipitating moments that led to Brown's outburst, Arians said, "None whatsoever."
Arians had expressed hesitation in signing Brown, calling him a "diva" and saying "there's no room" for him in their receiving corps, before the unit became decimated by injuries. That's what prompted the Bucs to sign him in October 2020, on the heels of his eight-game suspension after he was found to have violated the league's personal conduct policy for punching a delivery truck driver.
Arians made it clear to Brown, "You screw up once, and you're gone."
Brown went on to become the Bucs' most targeted player in the final five weeks of the regular season leading up to their Super Bowl run, and several members of the organization spoke out in support of him. Arians called him a "model citizen."
An NFL investigation found that Brown produced a fake vaccine card -- a federal crime -- but Arians went against his "one and done" statement, choosing to bring Brown back last month after he was ordered to serve a three-game suspension.
When asked what he'd say to those who didn't think Brown deserved another chance, Arians said, "I don't give a s--- what they think." He also said, "History changed."
"I really loved the way he tried to fit in, worked his way in and gave us everything he had to go to the Super Bowl," Arians told ProFootballTalk.com last week. "My whole attitude on him changed. I saw him trying to be a better human being. So I've got a totally different relationship than when it was when you and I talked last year."
That was before Brown's midgame exit on Sunday. Brown was seen later Sunday on social media smiling from the back seat of a car driven by New Jersey chauffeur Danny Chalet and talking excitedly about a reality show.
Brown later posted a link to a new music single on his Instagram story and then posted a photo of himself in a Buccaneers uniform from the game. The caption read: "Big MAD (Making a Difference). Thanks for the opportunity."