Antonio Brown is finally addressing the bizarre incident that ended his Bucs career ... claiming the team gave him a "powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller" and forced him to play despite knowing he had a serious ankle injury -- all leading to the moment he says head coach Bruce Arianstold him "you're done!"
That's when 33-year-old AB says he removed his jersey and pads ... and walked off the Met Life football field.
"Because of my commitment to the game, I relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured. Despite the pain, I suited up, the staff injected me with what I now know was a powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using, and I gave it my all for the team," Brown said in a statement released by his attorney.
The 7x Pro Bowler continued, saying he balled until the pain got to a point where he could no longer endure it.
"I played until it was clear that I could not use my ankle to safely perform my playing responsibilities. On top of that, the pain was extreme. I took a seat on the sideline and my coach came up to me, very upset, and shouted, 'What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you?' I told him, 'It's my ankle.' But he knew that."
Unfortunately for AB, he says Arians didn't care, and demanded he go back in the game.
Brown says he responded ... '"Coach, I can't.' He didn't call for medical attention. Instead, he shouted at me, "YOU'RE DONE!" while he ran his finger across his throat. Coach was telling me that if I didn't play hurt, then I was done with the Bucs."
Bottom line, Brown says ... "I didn't quit. I was cut. I didn't walk away from my brothers. I was thrown out."
As for the Bucs, Arians claimed he never discussed an ankle injury with Antonio.
Clearly, AB and the team have two different views as to what transpired on the field ... in what was one of the strangest and surreal moments in NFL history.
If you missed the incident ... the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers were trailing the lowly NY Jets in New Jersey Sunday afternoon.
Brown -- who'd caught 3 balls for 26 yards -- was seen engaged in a very animated conversation on the sideline with star WR Mike Evans.
Then, AB, standing only feet from his teammates, removed his jersey, pads, and t-shirt until he was bare-chested. Brown threw his shirt into the stands ... and ultimately walked through the tunnel into the locker room.
Antonio was seen calling an Uber from the front of the stadium in East Rutherford, NJ ... before taking a car to NYC.
While in Manhattan, Brown says he saw several top doctors ... and was diagnosed with a significant ankle injury.
“What they did know until now is that on Monday morning I had an urgent MRI on my ankle. It shows broken fragments stuck in my ankle, the ligament torn from the bone, and cartilage loss, which are beyond painful. You can see the bone bulging from the outside.”
Antonio says the damage can be fixed ... but will require surgery, which he intends to have done.
As for his football future ... #81 says he plans to play again next year.
“Once my surgery is complete, I’ll be back to 100% and looking forward to next season. Business gonna be BOOMIN!"
Despite the drama and questions about his future, Brown doesn't seem to be taking the situation too hard. After seeing the docs, he stayed in NYC, taking in the Brooklyn Nets game Monday night, before linking up with hip-hop star, Fabolous, for a bite to eat.