Bruce Arians copped out in the most cowardly way possible on Sunday afternoon. His Tampa Bay Buccaneers had just finished an epic comeback over the New York Jets, capped off by a Tom Brady touchdown throw with only 15 seconds remaining. But the story of the day was Antonio Brown blowing a gasket and ripping off his jersey before running off the field in the middle of the third quarter. It was easily one of the craziest things anybody has ever seen on the gridiron and was the story of the day.
Instead of addressing it in any real way, Arians simply stated that Brown was not on the team anymore and therefore he would refuse to answer any questions about him going forward.
Guess what, Bruce? That's not the end of the story. And you only have yourself to blame.
Arians has a lot to answer for. This is an embarrassment of a controversy for the Bucs. Brown's conduct was unbecoming of a professional and Arians is the man who went to bat for him. Arians is the one who could have easily sent Brown packing after he was suspended for using a fake vaccination card (a literal federal crime), but he didn't. He defended Brown with his classic gruff, Football Guy attitude.
And now he wants to brush off questions about Brown after he had the most public meltdown possible? Get out of here, man. That's not how any of this works. You would think an NFL head coach would understand the concept of accountability, but Arians seemed intently interested in avoiding anything of the sort yesterday.
He has to address this. It is that simple. Nobody goes without consequences for their actions. Arians will probably try to bully and intimidate reporters like he did yesterday to avoid any more questions about Brown, but the reporters will keep asking.
As the day unfolds, he'll have even more to explain, too. Ian Rapoport said this morning that the incident was caused by the Bucs telling Brown to enter the game despite his ankle injury. When Brown said his ankle was too sore to enter, Arians said he was done for the day and Brown stormed off. The tone of the situation is weirdly confrontational and seems to imply the Bucs didn't believe Brown was that hurt, which is weird since he's been on the injury report since December 22 with the injury. Things are murky and assumptions will be made until Arians clears things up. It's a distraction. The only person who can fix this is the head coach.
Arians got mad whenever anyone questioned if keeping Brown around was a wise decision. It turns out everybody who thought that was right. It's time to face the music, Bruce. He can't keep avoiding it just because he doesn't want to admit he's wrong. If he didn't want to do that he shouldn't have become the type of public figure who has to speak to reporters about his mistakes week-in and week-out for seven months of the year. Not wanting to do something does not absolve Arians of having to do it.