“We give everything we can on the field, but we also have outside lives, too. And I’m going to do everything I can to try to be a great friend and supportive to Antonio and the things he’s going through,” Brady told host Jim Gray on the “Let’s Go!” podcast on January 3.
“I’ve known Antonio for a couple years now, pretty closely,” Brady said. “We’ve obviously been teammates and I would just say I love him, I care about him and I have a lot of compassion and a lot of empathy for the things that are happening in his life.”
It built upon what Brady said following the Sunday, January 2, win over the New York Jets, 28-24, when Brown bolted in the third quarter. Brady, long known as a fierce competitor willing to call out teammates, showed nothing but empathy amid Brown’s display.
“Yeah, that’s obviously a difficult situation. … I think everybody should hopefully do what they can to help him in ways that he really needs it,” Brady said in the January 2 press conference.
During the podcast, Brady reiterated that he didn’t see Brown’s exit.
“I didn’t understand, kind of, what was happening until after the game. I didn’t understand what had transpired,” Brady told Gray. “I saw after the game that Mike [Evans] was trying to talk to Antonio and so was O.J. [Howard]. Bruce [Arians] was also. Again, it was just a very difficult situation for everyone involved.”
Brady set a tone for how to look at Brown’s situation, Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr wrote. Brown’s actions “could also be a cry for help” and “it is help that obviously football could not provide,” Orr wrote.
Brady knows it, too.
“It’s a lot of challenges we all face from time to time,” Brady told Gray. “The thing is to have a support system outside of football.”
Could Brady Fear the Worst for Brown?
Brady hasn’t been a stranger to the dark sides of NFL players’ lives. In his 22-year NFL career, Brady played with three former New England Patriots players who lived with CTE — chronic traumatic encephalopathy, “a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma (often athletes),” according to Boston University’s CTE Center — and took their lives, Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel noted.
Junior Seau, who played with Brady from 2006 to 2009, shot himself in 2012. Aaron Hernandez, Brady’s teammate from 2010 to 2012, hanged himself in 2017 after he committed murder in 2013. Phillip Adams, who played with Brady in 2011, killed himself after killing six other people in 2021.
“Were any of them, or any of the smaller struggles and even triumphs he personally witnessed through the years, on Brady’s mind when he spoke about Brown?” Wetzel wrote. “Only Brady knows that. But how couldn’t they be, at least to some degree?
“How many 44-year-olds can count three former coworkers that took their own life, let alone having two of them kill other people first? How can’t that person look at Antonio Brown and worry about what comes next,” Wetzel added.
Brady Knows Brown Isn’t Alone
In light of Brown’s situation, Brady talked with Gray about how mental health is an issue among many athletes, NFL players included. Brady highlighted Ricky Williams, Calvin Ridley and Olympian Simone Biles as examples.
“It’s definitely more prevalent than we used to think,” Brady said about mental health issues. “There’s a humanity to everything we’re doing out there.”
“You don’t know what other people are going through and you try to do your job,” Brady added. “You get to know people, you really try to do everything you can do to help them.”
“Antonio is a great player, an extremely talented player and we all want the best for him,” Brady said.