Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown says he focused on personal growth during NFL absence

In his first public comments since signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, receiver Antonio Brown said he used his time out of the NFL to try to grow and improve his life after being suspended by the NFL for a series of off-field incidents. 

“I took a lot of time off from the game to reevaluate myself and look within and get a better perspective on myself,” Brown said Wednesday. “Working on myself within and without. Being in this position, we followed the mission and came back on track. It’s what I’m here to do.”

In July, Brown was suspended eight games for violating the NFL's personal conduct penalty. The punishment stemmed from Brown sending intimidating text messages in which he harassed a woman who had accused him of sexual misconduct, as well as his no contest plea to burglary and battery charges from an incident in January. This is the first week Brown, 32, is eligible to play.

Antonio Brown is getting another shot at the NFL with the Bucs. (Photo: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

A former trainer of Brown's also filed a civil lawsuit alleging that Brown sexually assaulted her three different times in 2017 and 2018. The NFL launched an investigation, which remains ongoing, to look into the matter. And any additional violations of the league's conduct policy "will likely result in more significant discipline," the NFL said in August.

The Buccaneers signed Brown Oct. 23.

Brown went through a walk-through practice with Tampa Bay in anticipation of its game Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints. Wednesday was the first practice Brown has participated in since the New England Patriots released him in September 2019.

Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians defended the organization’s decision to sign Brown.

“I think when you judge people, is it allegation versus – there’s no convictions of anything,” Arians said. “For people that want to doubt the decision, I defend my record on all those type of things. I don’t have a problem with (the decision to sign Brown). It’s not all about winning.”

Brown showed up to his first news conference in Tampa wearing a black TB12 hat, the company founded by Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. Brown spoke about how Brady, whom he played with while on the Patriots on in 2019, helped him connect with Tony Robbins, a motivational speaker and author.

“He has been a great asset for me for working on myself within,” Brown said of Robbins. “I spent some time sitting with him, developing some positive things within, changing my outlook on a couple of things, battling to get away from anger, just being able to stay positive and see the positive in things and not letting my emotion and frustration ruin my outlook on what’s in front of me.”

Asked what he would tell critics who believe he doesn't deserve another chance in the NFL, Brown said he wanted to prove himself through his behavior.

“Hopefully I can change their perspective of being here around great people and a great organization,” Brown said. “Hopefully I can win them over with my actions with how I move forward and how I handle my business.”

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