Bruce Arians was blunt when the Buccaneers signed Antonio Brown that he wouldn’t get the benefit of the doubt if he caused any drama in Tampa Bay.
“He screws up one time, he’s gone,” Arians said in October of 2020.
Brown didn’t cause problems during his first calendar year with the Buccaneers. But at the end stage of the 2021 NFL season, he has drawn attention for all the wrong reasons, and that led his his abrupt release from the team during a Week 17 win over the Jets.
That’s not a major surprise. Brown came to the Buccaneers with a checkered history that included off-the-field issues with the Steelers and tenures with the Bills, Raiders and Patriots that were derailed by his antics.
This is a timeline look at Brown’s legal troubles, movement from team to team, suspension history and more.
Dec. 30, 2018: Antonio Brown benched by Steelers
Before the final week of the 2018 season, Brown had mostly just gained notoriety for his productive receiving seasons for the Steelers. Go out and catch 100 passes, wash, rinse and repeat.
Leading into Week 17, Brown was given a “rest day” Wednesday. Then he didn’t practice the rest of the week due to what was listed as a knee injury. Brown was inactive for Pittsburgh’s game that Sunday, and coach Mike Tomlin said the benching was due to “injury and lack of information.” Reports emerged later that Brown had thrown a football at Ben Roethlisberger during the week, and that he was mad at JuJu Smith-Schuster being named team MVP.
Feb. 19, 2019: Steelers agree to trade Antonio Brown
Two weeks after Brown was found guilty of reckless driving, Brown met with Steelers owner Art Rooney II. They agreed to part ways. The Steelers made it clear that they’d be looking for fair market value in return for Brown in a trade.
March 7, 2019: Antonio Brown to the Bills?
For one short-lived evening, it looked like Brown would be a Buffalo Bill.
Reports emerged that Brown would be traded to Buffalo as a new target for young quarterback Josh Allen. Those rumors were quickly squashed, and Brown himself commented on an Instagram post announcing the deal with “fake news.”
March 10, 2019: Raiders acquire Antonio Brown
The then-Oakland Raiders traded a third- and fifth-round pick to the Steelers to acquire Brown.
Brown almost immediately became the NFL’s highest-paid receiver, when the Raiders signed him to a three-year deal worth $50 million. A reported $30 million of that contract was guaranteed.
Aug. 3, 2019: Foot troubles
Brown entered a cryotherapy machine without proper footwear. For the uninitiated, cryotherapy uses extreme cold/ice to treat injuries.
Brown posted a picture of his mangled feet on Aug. 3, and on Hard Knocks, he was shown saying “I got circumcised on my feet.” Arriving at his first Raiders camp with foot issues did not help Brown hit the ground running.
Aug. 9, 2019: Helmet issues
The NFL’s updated helmet safety standards prevented Brown from wearing the same helmet he had worn his whole career. It took about a whole month for the issue to be resolved.
Some of the drama included reports of Brown threatening to retire, grievances being filed, and Brown spray-painting his old helmet. Brown chose a new helmet by early September, saying it made him feel “agile and comfortable.”
Sept. 5, 2019: Skipping work and fighting with GM
Brown was fined nearly $54,000 for missing team workouts. He posted the letter with his displeasure on Instagram.
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) September 4, 2019
Reports indicated that Brown lashed out at general manager Mike Mayock because he was unhappy with the fine and had to be held back. According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Brown repeatedly called Mayock a “cracker.” The incident began the Raiders’ process of looking into how to release Brown and get out of paying him the $30 million guaranteed they owed him. The next day, coach Jon Gruden said Brown would play in Week 1 against the Broncos.
Brown also released a video of a private phone conversation between him and Gruden which has since been edited to not include the conversation on YouTube. The video included Brown saying, “Man, I’ve been trying to be a Raider since day one.”
Sept. 7, 2019: Raiders release Antonio Brown; Patriots sign AB
Brown requested a release on his Instagram less than 24 hours after Gruden said he’d play in Week 1. The Raiders found a way out of Brown’s guaranteed money, fining him for conduct detrimental to the team. On Sept. 7, the Raiders released Brown.
The Patriots didn’t waste time signing Brown, agreeing on a one-year deal worth up to $15 million that included a $9-million signing bonus. New England quarterback Tom Brady helped house Brown when he first arrived in town.
Sept. 10, 2019: Antonio Brown sued for sexual assault
Brown’s former trainer, Britney Taylor, accused him of raping her in a lawsuit filed on this date in federal court. The lawsuit alleged that Brown sexually assaulted Taylor on three different occasions in 2017 and 2018.
The NFL launched an investigation into the matter. As of Nov. 2020, the lawsuit has not been resolved.
Sept. 15, 2019: Antonio Brown plays for Patriots
Brown played one game for the Patriots. He caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. New England got Brown three of his four catches on his very first drive.
Antonio Brown was +125 to catch a touchdown in his Patriots debut
— Barstool Sportsbook (@BSSportsbook) September 15, 2019
Sept. 20, 2019: Patriots release Antonio Brown
A few days after Brown’s Patriots debut, he was accused of sexual misconduct by a second woman. Brown reportedly responded by sending threatening text messages to that woman.
Brown was released by the Patriots on Sept. 20 as the NFL investigated the multiple allegations against him.
July 30, 2020: Antonio Brown suspended eight games
Brown received an eight-game suspension from the NFL, not due to the sexual assault allegations but for a separate incident in January 2020. He was in violation of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy.
The suspension stemmed from Brown’s January arrest connected to the attack of the driver of a moving company truck. The initial Brown charge was felony assault and battery, and in March charges handed down included burglary of a vehicle, misdemeanor battery, and misdemeanor criminal mischief.
Oct. 23, 2020: Buccaneers sign Antonio Brown
The Buccaneers signed Brown to a deal for the remainder of the 2020 season. Per reports, Brown will be paid a maximum of $2.5 million in 2020, with most of that coming through incentives. His prorated base salary would be about $750K.
Tampa Bay signed Brown before Week 8, which he’d miss while serving the final game of his eight-game suspension that was counted for each week of the season despite Brown only being on a roster for one of those eight weeks.
Nov. 8, 2020: Antonio Brown debuts with Buccaneers
Brown returned to practice in Week 9 ahead of Tampa Bay’s “Sunday Night Football” game against the Saints. He’s slated to make his season debut in prime time.
Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said that Brown could see 10 plays or could see 35 plays, depending on the condition he’s in and how he plays.
Dec. 2, 2021: Antonio Brown suspended for supplying NFL with fake vaccination card
The NFL launched an investigation into Brown’s vaccination status after his personal chef accused him of supplying the league with a fake vaccination card. The league found that the allegations against him, and his teammate Mike Edwards, were accurate and suspended him three games for misrepresenting his vaccination status.
There was some speculation that the Buccaneers would cut Brown, as Arians had previously said of Brown, “He screws up one time, he’s gone.”
However, Arians and the Bucs decided to keep him after the incident.
“It’s in the best interest of our football team,” he said, via The Athletic’s Greg Auman. “Both of those guys have served their time and we’ll welcome them back.”
Dec. 27, 2021: Antonio Brown sounds off on reporters after returning from suspension
Brown was asked multiple times to address his suspension after his return to the Buccaneers. He declined repeatedly and accused reporters of dredging up “drama” after his return.
“You guys it’s all drama,” Brown said. “It’s all about football. We here to talk about Carolina or I don’t want to talk to you guys.”
Jan. 2, 2022: Antonio Brown disrobes, runs off the field during game vs. Jets
During the Buccaneers’ Week 17 game against the Jets, Antonio Brown exited the field in a bizarre fashion. He was seen on the bench in uniform and chatting with Mike Evans. Then, he ripped off his jersey, pads, undershirt and gloves and chucked his shirt into the crowd.
Brown then proceeded to run shirtless to the Bucs locker room. He ran across the field and flashed a peace sign to the Jets fans after jumping up and down in the end-zone.
Antonio Brown just kinda left pic.twitter.com/iXazJLx81x
— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) January 2, 2022
After the game, Arians said Brown’s time as a Buccaneer had come to an end.
“He is no longer a Buc,” he said. “That’s the end of the story, let’s talk about the guys that went out there and won the game.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated from its original version published on Nov. 23, 2020.
Jacob Camenker contributed.