Antonio Brown says Bucs offered him $200k in mental health smear campaign, doesn’t rule out lawsuit

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“All of our options are on the table,” Brown’s attorney Sean Burstyn told Bryant Gumbel during a recent “Real Sports” interview.

Antonio Brown isn’t done engaging in a war of words with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over how and why the team essentially fired him after his shirtless mid-game exit during their Jan. 2 matchup with the New York Jets.

The 33-year-old wide receiver and his attorney Sean Burstyn recently told Bryant Gumbel that they’re considering taking legal action against the Bucs for an alleged public smear campaign concerning Brown’s mental health.

“All of our options are on the table,” Burstyn told Gumbel during his and Brown’s interview, which is scheduled to air tonight on HBO during the latest episode of Real Sports.

“We’re going to hold to account the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, [Bucs head coach] Bruce Arians, the general manager, to the extent anyone who is responsible for this spin that Antonio isn’t reliable to do a good job playing football because he doesn’t have the mental fortitude to do it,” said Burstyn.

Burstyn’s client has repeatedly denied that his on-field antics earlier this month have anything to do with him having mental health problems.

“I have mental wealth, man,” Brown told Gumbel. “I know a lot of people may not understand me, or know how I look at things or don’t know how I react [emotionally] to things, but it’s not for them to understand me.”

The Bucs have said Arians decided to cut Brown on Jan. 2 after the seven-time Pro Bowler complained about not getting enough targets from quarterback Tom Brady and refused to re-enter the game against the Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – JANUARY 02: Antonio Brown #81 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on against the New York Jets during the game at MetLife Stadium on January 02, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – JANUARY 02: Antonio Brown #81 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on against the New York Jets during the game at MetLife Stadium on January 02, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Brown has maintained that an ankle injury prevented him from getting back on the field and says his bizarre exit from the stadium during the third quarter was in response to Arians telling him, “You’re done. Get the f— out of here,” while ignoring his injury concerns.

“I want people to know that I was treated unfairly,” Brown said. “To be kicked out the game and kicked off the field and [told], ‘Get out of here,’ is ludicrous. We should have better rights.”

Brown stripped off his jersey, shoulder pads and his undershirt in response to Arians’ alleged sideline remarks before hopping across the field towards the locker room in front of NFL cameras and a stunned East Rutherford crowd.

After the episode played out, many fans and some NFL observers questioned whether Brown’s behavior was the result of CTE-related brain damage or other mental health concerns.

Brown and his lawyer told Gumbel that the Bucs tried to capitalize on that perception by offering him money to undergo mental health treatment some time after the game.

“These guys at Tampa Bay Bucs tried to make an agreement with me to give me $200,000 to go to the crazy house so these guys could look like they know what they’re talking about,” Brown said. “Mental health is an important key to the world, so to drag people along and play on people’s mental health, it’s unfair and unfortunate.”

Burstyn said the Bucs’ offer was for Brown to “sit on the sidelines, go on some list and commit himself to some form of intensive mental health treatment.”

“We were specifically told in writing by the general manager twice, ‘Don’t spin this any other way,'” he said. “They’re weaponizing mental health, everything people want to think about Antonio Brown, to cover up a really simple case, which is a player who gave his all, gave his physical well-being for a team and got cut when he said, ’This is my limit and I can’t go further.’”

The Buccaneers front office did not immediately respond on Wednesday to a request for comment from theGrio. Brown’s lawyer said they may sue the Bucs for defamation and to make the team honor the terms of his client’s terminated contract.

“How much money are we talking about?” Gumbel asked during the interview.

“A whole lot of money,” Brown replied.

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