New England Patriots

Jan 2, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) on the field before the game against the New York Jets during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Brown may have finally punched his own ticket out of the National Football League.

The now-former Buccaneers wide receiver was a member of the team on Sunday morning. He remained a member of the team at kickoff against the Jets. He even made three catches. But incredibly, by the time the game was over, Brown was a free agent again.

It’s unclear what led to Brown’s latest bizarre scene on Sunday, but this one was certainly very public and impossible to ignore. During the second half, Brown was on the sidelines and ripped off his jersey, shoulder pads, and undershirt, and just ran off the field. Right in the middle of the game. Apparently because he’d been benched.

It appears that Brown decided, at that moment, that he was quitting the Bucs. And by virtue of that decision, he probably quit the NFL for good, too.

  • And views from the stands…

  • Bucs head coach Bruce Arians confirmed after the game that Brown is no longer a member of the Bucs after his stunt. Oh, and Tom Brady didn’t need him, anyway. Instead, he hit Cyril Grayson for the eventual game-winning touchdown with only three seconds left in regulation. It’ll always be one of football’s great mysteries why Brady insisted on having Brown on his team, despite countless meltdowns and ugly, often criminal off-field incidents.

    Brady was asked about Brown after the game and offered as compassionate a take as you can for a guy who’s had every second chance in the world.

    “That’s obviously a difficult situation,” Brady said (via Greg Auman). “We all love him and care about him deeply. … I think everyone should be compassionate and empathetic toward some very difficult things.”

  • Dec 26, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) walks in the tunnel with wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 26, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) walks in the tunnel with wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Yes, compassion and empathy are always good qualities to have. It’s just that Brown has made it more difficult to feel those things for him than perhaps any pro athlete of his ilk has ever done in his career. Not many receivers would have gotten second, third, 657th chances like he has, and this is how he chooses to end it.

    Clearly, Brown is still surrounded by enablers, or simply isn’t getting the kind of help that he actually needs. It’s time he gets it, before he does something really destructive, something far worse than Sunday’s embarrassing tantrum.