Tom Brady spoke compassionately about Antonio Brown Sunday after the wide receiver removed his pads, shirt and gloves, throwing the latter two into the stands, before finding his own way to the airport.
Brady’s words, suggesting that people should “do whatever they can to help [Brown] in the way you really need it, ”he hit the pause button in what was initially a cascade of media schadenfreude, the result of weeks of criticism about the Buccaneers having Brown on the roster first. . The team signed Brown in 2020 while he was facing a civil sexual assault case (which was later settled out of court after Brown helped the team win a Super Bowl). He was held back after his recent three-game suspension for falsifying his COVID-19 vaccine card. Meanwhile, they pointed to his progress as a human being, alluding to his attempts to curb the fickle behavior of the receiver.
Brady had allowed Brown to stay at his home in the Tampa area. He introduced Brown to Tony Robbins, a motivational speaker whose work aims to help people develop a more positive mindset. He covered Brown in many cases, to the point where it seemed odd that the greatest player in NFL history risked his legacy by association.
It was easy for many of us to get cynical, given the stakes for Brady and the Buccaneers organization in 2020. His offense was noticeably better with Brown in the lineup. So we’re always left wondering if Brady, and by proxy, an entire club that signed up on this trip, was in it to really rehabilitate Brown and enjoy the mutual benefits on the field that flow from it, or if this it was a cold. and a calculated decision to endure a roller coaster ride and bail out when public pressure became excessive. Ultimately, it would appear that Brady’s efforts were genuine, given what we saw after Sunday’s game. Their concern was visible, a welcome divergence from the chorus of tough, laconic clichés that accompanied Brown’s release from Bruce Arians and any anonymous sources on the team who texted a national message. reporter simply, “He left.”
Regardless of what is true, Sunday sparked a feeling of unease, one that is sadly familiar in the NFL. Players, coaches, scouts and executives are a microcosm of society and therefore suffer from the same kinds of problems that plague us all. Be it mental health, addiction, anger, insecurity, fear, or violence, we greet each day as imperfect beings to varying degrees. NFL players just do it in a bubble, for all of us to see and often criticize. For many of us, a saving grace comes in the form of counseling, therapy, medical intervention, time spent with family or in the presence of a community of supportive people. But it may be time we stopped counting an NFL locker room as one of those places.
For so long, we’ve heard coaches and executives present the signing of a struggling player as an opportunity to give that person a better future. And while this is undoubtedly something they believe in, the truth is, simply shoving someone who is dealing with any issues (including sometimes just a rough day or an argument at home) into the disciplined routine of an NFL season. it will not correct or alleviate anything. there are underlying problems. We have seen many NFL players, from Calvin Ridley to Lane Johnson, walk away from the field to address their mental health rather than remain in the tinderbox of excitement, expectation, and pressure, hoping that their work will eventually provide. a solution.
It would be unfair for us to diagnose Brown with something from a distance, so we are not. We also do not criticize Brady for his attempts to help. And we don’t know the extent of the quarterback’s methods, their reach, or their resources. But it became clear Sunday that football was not the solution to a series of bizarre and disturbing incidents associated with Brown dating back to his unceremonious departure from the Steelers.
After Brown left the field on Sunday, he was quickly ejected from the team. Arians simply said that Brown was no longer part of the organization and would not address it further. Brown received a spot on the list after using a bogus vaccination card (a felony) and incurring sexual assault charges. But not after an incident that seemed to arouse genuine concern from his teammate.
Just a week ago Arians told NBC Sports that he “saw [Brown] trying to be a better human being. “If that were true, if Arians had a front row seat for the trip and apparently understood that recovering from any problem is not a constant ascent but a process of steps back and forth , then he shouldn’t be allowed to just cut bait when the behavior publicly embarrasses him again.
Therein lies the problem of using professional sports as a redemptive or healing vehicle. Structure and routine can certainly help. Many of us have had coaches, bosses, or other authority figures who have changed our lives for the better. Many of us enjoy the distraction of an involved hobby or job. The problem is when we see it as a complete panacea. The alleged support mechanism Brown had in Tampa is no more, although Brown’s teammate Le’Veon Bell said after the game that the first thing he did in the locker room was text the receiver to see how. I was. With Brady publicly opening the door to the fact that Brown needs help, the question is where the responsibility of Tampa Bay, or the NFL in general, in providing such assistance lies, given that they backed him in the first place when so many wondered if it would be. So. it was the right idea.
This is not a piece that excuses Brown’s litany of irresponsible behavior. Illustrated Sports has produced the most comprehensive work on her troubled past, including allegations of forced rape and unwanted sexual advances. Brown faked his vaccination status and was later in regular contact with a coach who had had cancer three times and an 83-year-old consultant, Tom Moore. Instead, this is a plea for teams to realize that sometimes no one can help through structure and discipline alone. Even if being in a locker room helps for some time, there are always hours between practices off the premises. There is always life after retirement. This is also not a piece that blames anyone in particular for his inability to help Brown.
So while it may simply be true that Brown “gave up” on his teammates, or simply decided to act in a way that has been consistent with recent behavior, while this may just be another case for many to say, it might as well. it will be a cry for help. Brady suggested that. Bell’s urge to see his friend suggested it. It is a help that, obviously, football cannot provide, and we should stop pretending that it can.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.