Fresh off a dramatic, final-minute touchdown to win another NFL game, Tom Brady sat in front of a media call on Sunday and was asked about a player who played no part in that comeback.

During the third quarter, wide receiver Antonio Brown had stripped out of his uniform and pads and dramatically ran off the field — an act of either quitting or being fired, depending on whatever narrative you buy, that was unprecedented in league history.

Brady could have dodged questions about Brown the way his coach, Bruce Arians, did. Or he could have understandably kept it simple like other teammates, who were likely as stunned and confused as everyone else.

Brady didn’t, though. His answer instead was one that sought understanding and compassion for Brown and, most of all, tried to make it clear to Brown himself that Brady and others were still there for him regardless of employment status.

“I think everybody should hopefully do what they can to help him in ways that he really needs it,” Brady said. “We all love him. We care about him deeply. We want to see him at his best. Unfortunately he can’t be with our team, but we have a lot of friendships that will last.

“Again, I think the most important things about football are the relationships with your friends and teammates,” Brady continued. “They go beyond the field. I think everyone should be compassionate and empathetic with some of the difficult things that are happening.”

Tom Brady has played 22 seasons in the National Football League. He’s had over a thousand teammates during that career, ranging from brief stints during training camps to decade-long relationships. He’s seen things. He knows people.

That includes witnessing struggles with mental health, with depression, with destructive behavior and even CTE.

While Brady’s career has often been seen through a glorious prism — Super Bowl titles, dramatic victories, celebratory documentaries — this is still pro football. It isn’t all highlight reels…



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