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Buccaneers formally cut ties with Antonio Brown, dispute his injury claims

The team claimed the wide receiver never told "medical personnel" he was injured and couldn't play.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers formally released wide receiver Antonio Brown on Thursday and disputed his claims that he was injured and unable to play over the weekend.

Brown took off his uniform and protective gear before he stormed off the field Sunday at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey in a spectacle that grabbed the attention of football fans and non-sports watchers alike.

Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said immediately after the game against the New York Jets that Brown was "no longer a Buc," making Thursday's announcement a mere formality.

"The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have terminated the contract of Antonio Brown, effective immediately," the team said.

Brown issued a lengthy statement Wednesday night claiming that he was told to play even though he had told his coach he couldn't because of an ankle injury that caused him to miss practice time last week.

In their statement Thursday, the Buccaneers fired back at Brown and notably said he didn't tell "medical personnel" about the ankle. The Bucs didn't mention any talks Brown might have had with coaches before he left MetLife Stadium.

"While Antonio did receive treatment on his ankle and was listed on the injury report the week leading up to last Sunday’s game, he was cleared to play by our medical team prior to the start of the game and at no point during the game did he indicate to our medical personnel that he could not play," the team said.

"We have attempted, multiple times throughout this week, to schedule an evaluation by an outside orthopedic specialist, yet Antonio has not complied. Maintaining the health and wellness of our players is of the utmost importance to our organization."

And Arians told reporters Thursday that Brown was complaining about the number of footballs, or lack thereof, being thrown to him for his alleged refusal to play.

"We called for the personnel group that he had played in the entire game. He refused to go in the game," Arians said.

"That’s when I looked back and saw him basically wave off the coach. I then went back, approached him about what was going on. 'I ain’t playing.' What’s going on? 'I ain’t getting the ball.' That’s when I said, 'You’re done, get the eff out of here.'"

Brown's highly publicized meltdown has sparked a national debate about the mental health of athletes, particularly those in the violent sport of football.