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Tom Brady on Antonio Brown: “It was just a very difficult situation for everyone involved”

Mike Florio and Charean Williams take a close look at Antonio Brown's abrupt exit during the Bucs' Week 17 game against the Jets and discuss some of the potential contributing factors.

Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, in his post-game comments from Sunday, called for empathy and compassion for receiver Antonio Brown. In the latest episode of his Let’s Go! podcast on SiriusXM, Brady reiterated his hope that Brown is able to get through the issues he’s currently dealing with.

“I’ve known Antonio for a couple years now, you know, pretty closely,” Brady told Jim Gray. “We’ve obviously been teammates and I would just say I love him, I care about him, and I have a lot of compassion. I have a lot of empathy for the things that are happening in his life. So it’s a lot of challenges we all face from time to time. I think the best thing is to have a support system, even outside of football, because again, yeah, we are football players, we’re athletes, we give everything we can on the field, but we also have off field lives, too. And I’m gonna continue to do everything I can to try to be a great friend and supportive to Antonio and the things he’s going through.”

Brady repeatedly referred to issues that Brown is confronting away from football.

“I think about Ricky Williams and I think about Calvin Ridley this year, a young player for the Atlanta Falcons that stepped away from the game,” Brady said. “And, again, I don’t think anyone’s living in anyone else’s shoes. So you don’t necessarily know what other people are going through. All you do is, you know, you show up to work every day and you try to do your job. And you obviously recognize there’s a lot of teammates in a locker room and you build relationships with those teammates. And I’ve done it for a long period of time for a lot of years. And you get to know people, you really try to do everything you can to help them. You know, my dad said something the other day, he said, ‘Look, all we can do is the best we can do with the opportunities that are presented to us.’ And whatever that means for different people, whether that’s on the field, off the field, family life, professional life, I’m gonna try to do the best I can do with the circumstances that I’m presented before me as a person. And I try to live with integrity. I try to live with honesty and, you know, I care about people beyond the football field, as well. So, again, it’s a very difficult situation that everyone’s dealing with. And it’s shown itself, obviously in this example yesterday, but it showed itself in the Olympics with Simone Biles and she came out and she spoke quite a bit about it. So it’s definitely more prevalent than we used to think. You know, we used to think that we were just all, you know, robots out there and we’d go out there and play and it’s more than that now. And I think there’s a recognition of that and we’re all, there’s a humanity to everything that we’re doing out there. It’s very comforting to know that people are seeing athletes in deeper ways than just their potential on the field as well.”

Brady said he didn’t realize what had happened with Brown, who stripped down to his game pants and ran off the field, until after the game.

“I didn’t understand kind of what was happening until after the game,” Brady said. “I didn’t understand what transpired and I saw after the game Mike [Evans] was trying to talk to Antonio and so was O.J. [Howard]. And I know Bruce [Arians] was also. Again, it was just a very difficult situation for everybody involved.”

Gray described Brown as “Jerry Rice out there,” and Gray said that Brady will surely “miss that not only as a teammate on the field but just as a football player, to see such a thing of beauty not being able to perform anymore, at least seemingly not being able to.”

“Yeah, and I think it’s, again, I think for people on the outside looking in who aren’t familiar with all the, you know, normal aspects of what happens in a team, you know, it’s just, you wanna look at one situation and categorize something in a certain way,” Brady said. “And, you know, life isn’t like that. And for the guys on the team who are working hard every day to commit themselves to what our goals are, you know, we’ve gotta continue to focus on that. And Antonio is a great player and extremely talented player. And we all want the best for him. We really do. I think there’s a very supportive group of teammates and coaches, and it’s just a very difficult situation for everybody. I don’t think there’s a great way to sum anything up other than to say that he has a lot of supportive teammates. And I’m certainly one of them. I love him, and I’m always here for him.”

Here’s hoping that those aren’t just the words Brady felt compelled to utter, that he’ll provide the same support for Brown on the way out that he did on the way in, when he took Brown under his wing (and into his home) in order to ensure that Brady would speak to Brown’s better angels in order to help Brady get the seventh ring that he coveted. It would be easy for Brady to forget about Brown and focus on the task at hand. But if Brown needs help, and if Brady is one of the few people on the planet who can speak hard truths to Brown, hopefully Brady will do it.