When asked Monday before the Bucs defeated the New York Giants in a nationally televised game, after a report that Brown was a houseguest, Brady almost confirmed it.
“Antonio is a good friend of mine and we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well over the years,” Brady said of Westwood One’s Jim Gray. “So he’s just settled down and I know he’s looking for places, but it’s just nice to have him with you. You know, we get to work and he likes being integrated into what we do and a big transition for him to move around the state and really not know anyone.
“So again, I’m just trying to be a great teammate and help someone who’s a friend of mine.”
Then, when Brown signed with Brady’s New England Patriots last season, the quarterback said he “would love to stay at my house”. Now Brady has to hope that Brown’s stint in Tampa Bay is longer than the 13 days and a game he spent in New England.
The Patriots quickly released Brown after the NFL began investigating allegations of rape and sexual assault against him against a woman and alleging that he sent threatening text messages to another woman who accused him of inappropriate behavior. Previously, problematic behavior attributed to Brown, arguably the league’s top recipient from 2013 to 2018, had led to his bans by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders.
Brown is eligible to qualify for Tampa Bay this week after being banned from the NFL for eight games in July, and he could play immediately. The Bucs were “shocked” by Brown’s high level of fitness when he checked in on Sunday, according to a Fox Sports report, and one of their star-wide recipients, Chris Godwin, missed the game on Monday with a finger injury.
“We were really healthy a few months ago and because of the injuries we sustained with our recipient corps, all we needed was insurance,” Bucs manager Bruce Arians said ahead of the game (via Pro Football Talk). “And if you lose Pro Bowl players, very rarely can you replace them with one and someone I think will buy in and adjust to what we want to do.
“So we pulled the trigger and we’re pretty excited about it.”
Brady and Brown reportedly stayed in touch during the off-season, and after Brady left the Patriots for the Bucs, Brown said he would be “really grateful if I had the chance to play in Tampa Bay”.
“Obviously it would be an extreme honor to play with Tom Brady,” Brown added at the time. “… I’m just trying to do everything I can to get things out of the way so I can get back on the field. I’m just looking forward to TB. He has a great opportunity. He is one of my close friends. “
“Of course, I’m delighted that Antonio has the opportunity to continue his career,” said Brady at Westwood One last week. “He has put a lot of time and energy into working on many things in his life and I know he is excited to play football.”
Arians, who had worked with Brown as Steelers assistant coach and called the wide receiver a “diva” last year, had previously turned down the idea of bringing Brown to Tampa Bay. That frosty relationship and Brady’s friendship with Brown sparked speculation that the Bucs’ new quarterback was the driving force behind the signing, but Arians insisted last week that “Tom had nothing to do with it.”
“I think he’s matured,” Arians said of Brown at the time. “I believe in second chances. … If Antonio does what I think he will, he will be fine. “