The Antonio Brown vs. Bruce Arians and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers saga is certainly going to take some twists and turns after one of the most bizarre on-field incidents in NFL history last weekend in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Brown’s lawyer told Fox Sports Radio legal analyst Amy Dash of LeagueOfJustice.com that ‘all options are on the table’ when it comes to his client potentially seeking tens of millions of dollars worth of legal claims against the reigning Super Bowl champions for releasing Brown after he stripped down and stormed off the field Sunday, January 2nd.
Dash says the four-time All-Pro wide receiver could go many routes when it comes to a potential case against the Buccaneers, with defamation, injury grievance, medical malpractice, and ‘intentional infliction of emotional distress’ as available options.
For defamation, one of the most common terms you heard in the wake of Brown’s untimely Bucs exit was the questioning of Brown’s ‘mental health’, and the team’s assertion that Brown receive ‘help.’
Brown could argue that using terms and phrases in that way to insinuate Brown has mental instability was damaging to his reputation and could impact his ability to receive a contract from another team or limit his marketability off the field as well.
Both Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and Tom Brady alluded to Brown getting ‘help’ during postgame press conferences.
Brady: “That’s obviously a difficult situation and I think everybody should do what they can to help him in ways he really needs it. We all love him and care about him deeply, and we want to see him be at his best.”
Arians: "I wish him well. I hope if he needs help, gets some. It's very hard because I do care about him."
An injury grievance is another option for Brown, and perhaps the most realistic, as it was common knowledge that Brown had been dealing with a serious ankle injury since Week 6. He played in just 7 games all season from the ankle injury, and it was a question as to whether Brown could have even suited up in Weeks 14, 15, and 16 when he was suspended by the NFL for misrepresenting his vaccination status.
Brown could argue that he was cut by the Bucs for refusing to play injured.
Arians claims that he told Brown twice to re-enter the game vs. the Jets, but Brown refused. Arians never explained why Brown refused to go back into the game but said Brown never specifically mentioned his ankle injury on the sideline as the reason to why he couldn't play.
Brown on the other hand says Arians knew about the ankle injury beforehand, with text messages between Brown and Arians before the game allegedly confirming that. Brown says that Arians essentially told him to ‘GET OUT’ when Brown said he was too injured to return to the game, a game Tampa desperately needed to win to keep pace with the Cowboys and Rams for the NFC’s no. 2 seed.
Although it’s true Brown was injured, both Arians and Brown cast different stories on what was said on the sideline moments before Brown stripped down and jogged off the field, casting doubt to whether his ankle injury was discussed in that very moment.
Dash says another option is medical malpractice, which was first hinted at moments after the Jets game when Brown made an official statement on the incident, saying the team injected him with a 'dangerous painkiller.'
“Because of my commitment to the game, I relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured. 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.”
Dash notes that former NFL kicker Lawrence Tynes, ironically a former Bucs player as well, proceeded with a similar suit in 2015 when he Tynes alleged that the Buccaneers knew about a staph infection in their team facility and failed to remedy or safeguard their players from it, arguing that the Bucs providing unsanitary conditions to their players. Both sides later settled.
Brown said he will undergo ankle surgery in the offseason.
Dash believes another option for Brown, although the weakest she says, is ‘intentional infliction of emotional distress, in which Brown would have to prove that he’s suffered ‘severe emotional trauma’ since being released by the Bucs.
This might be unrealistic considering the surge of publicity Brown has enjoyed since the infamous incident, as Brown has appeared on multiple radio programs and podcasts this week promoting a new Netflix series that he claims is in the works.
Brown is 33-years-old and did actually prove this past season that he can still play at a high level in the NFL. He was averaging 77.9 yards per game in 2021, good enough for ninth in the NFL, and was an important contributor in Brady’s short-to-intermediate pass offense predicated on sharp route-running by its receivers.
Brown has made $70 million over the course of his career, even after the Raiders freed themselves of $30 million worth of guarantees with Brown in 2019. Brown had signed a 1-year deal with Tampa worth $3.1 million this past off-season and could have earned another $1 million if he had just totaled 8 more catches, 55 reception yards, and one touchdown in Tampa's pass-happy offense which led the NFL in usage.
Whether Brown ever plays in the NFL again is obviously a mystery at this point, as he remains a free agent, but it won't be because he's slowed down after 11 NFL seasons.
Make sure to follow @AmyDashTV to check out further developments with Antonio Brown, as well new details surrounding ongoing legal stories the likes of Deshaun Watson, Novak Djokovic, and Evander Kane.