BOSTON (CBS) — Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady spoke briefly about Antonio Brown’s sudden departure from the team after Tampa Bay’s win over the Jets on Sunday. A day later, Brady spoke at length about his friend.

In his podcast — “Let’s Go!” with Jim Gray — Brady made it clear that he intends to remain a part of the support system for Brown, even though their time as teammates has ended for a second time.

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“Again, it was just a very difficult situation for everybody involved. I’ve known Antonio for a couple of years now pretty closely, and 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 I have a lot of empathy for the things that are happening in his life,” Brady said. “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’re 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.”

Gray mentioned the likes of Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, Kevin Love, Michael Phelps and A.J. Brown as athletes who have recently spoken out about their own mental health. Brady, who entered the NFL in the year 2000 and has seen many aspects of the game change in the past 20-plus years, added Ricky Williams (in 2004) and Calvin Ridley (in 2021) to the conversation. Brady indicated it’s important that the world sees athletes as people, too. Brown hasn’t quite spoken about himself in a similar way, but with Sunday’s mid-game departure being added to a long list of troubling behavior for the receiver, Brady indicated that Brown is first and foremost a human being.

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“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’s you do is 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 and you really try to do everything you can to help ’em,” Brady said. “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 with this example [Sunday]. But it showed itself in the Olympics with Simone Biles, and she came out and spoke quite a bit about it. So it’s definitely more prevalent than we used to think. We used to think that we were just all 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. 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.”

On a football level, Brown was an important contributor for Tampa this year, catching 42 passes for 545 yards and four touchdowns in just seven games. Though that element is over for Brown and the Bucs, Brady said that Brown didn’t lose the support of his teammates in Tampa.

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“I think for people on the outside looking in who aren’t familiar with all the normal aspects of what happens in a team, you want to look at one situation and categorize something in a certain way. Life isn’t like that,” Brady said. “For the guys on the team who are working hard every day to commit themselves to what our goals are, we’ve gotta continue to focus on that. 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.” Staff