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Mike Evans tells Antonio Brown tirade differently, says WR wanted the ball

Andrew Buller-Russ

Week 17 of the 2021 NFL season will always be remembered as the time Antonio Brown removed his football equipment and threw his jersey into the stands, essentially quitting his job as a starting receiver on the playoff-bound Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Since then, we’ve heard several different accounts of what led up to the strange scene witnessed by millions of football fans.

From Brown’s perspective, he was forced into action by coach Bruce Arians and the team despite dealing with an ankle injury, which he later had surgery to address. Meanwhile, Tom Brady called for some compassion regarding the situation.

However, Mike Evans, the other starting receiver for the Buccaneers in the Week 17 victory over the Jets suggests AB was upset he wasn’t getting the ball enough. Here’s what Evans had to say in an interview with Matt Harmon of Yahoo Sports.

“What I remember is we were trying to get him to come back in the game,” Evans told Harmon. “He was saying he wanted the rock, and rightfully so. We should have gotten him the rock. He’s an unbelievable player. But I was like, ‘Yo, come in the game, AB.’ So we were asking him to come in the game. We were on offense. I’m like, ‘AB, big bro, come on, let’s go in the game. They’re calling for us.’ Because me and him are both on a pitch count, because we’re both coming back from injury. So I’m trying to get him to come in the game, and he doesn’t come. So I go back on the drive. I do my two plays. I come out. I see BA (Arians) still trying to get him come in the game, and they had a falling out somehow. AB goes off, and he’s about to take his pads off. I’m trying to grab his pads and tell him like, ‘Yo, big bro. . . .’ because me and him have a relationship. I don’t want him to go out like this. Like, obviously we need him, so I’m telling him, ‘Big bro, we need you. The season’s almost over. If you don’t want to be here, the next year you can leave.’ Obviously, I just didn’t want him to go out like that. So I’m telling him, ‘Please don’t go out like this.’ They’re calling me to go back in the game, so I just left him alone.”

Mike Evans on Antonio Brown (H/t Pro Football Talk)
  • Antonio Brown stats in Week 17: Three catches on five targets for 26 yards

Related: Tom Brady, Bruce Arians relationship reportedly soured in 2021

Antonio Brown’s tirade may have been financially motivated

Brown may have also been frustrated, realizing his chances of still reaching additional incentives in his contract that would have paid out a $2 million bonus.

  • Antonio Brown contract incentives: 28 catches, 255 receiving yards, and three touchdowns shy of $2M

With just one week to go after the Jets game, AB faced poor odds to meet the requirements.

Instead, Brown got released from the team altogether and now after rehabbing his ankle will likely hope to latch on with a team this offseason once he’s fully healthy. Although teams have been hesitant to consider adding AB to their core thus far. Brown is a free agent already, which means he could sign with any team.

Related: Top NFL free agents of 2022: Davante Adams, Chris Godwin top loaded WR class