Antonio Brown finds support from longtime friend Le'Veon Bell amid controversy

Bell and Brown played together for five years with the Steelers and recently again with the Bucs

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Le’Veon Bell said Sunday he texted Antonio Brown right after the team’s comeback win over the New York Jets which was overshadowed by the wide receiver’s antics.

Bell and Brown have been teammates on the Buccaneers for a few weeks this season but spent five years together on the Pittsburgh Steelers. He said he will have Brown’s back regardless of the wide receiver’s decision-making process and how it affects the team as a whole.

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Antonio Brown #84 celebrates his touchdown with Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field on Sept. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Antonio Brown #84 celebrates his touchdown with Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field on Sept. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

"I found out when we got into the locker room after the game, I instantly sent him a text real quick, he texted me back," Bell said, via Pro Football Talk. "He’s still one of my closest friends. You won’t hear me talking bad about AB at all. Things happen, but he’s one of my closest friends that I’ve been around, close teammates. Overall good person. Obviously some bad decision-making sometimes, but he’s human, he’s not perfect, and we’ll continue to move on without him and keep moving forward."

Bell added he and Brown were still close friends and it’s disappointing he won’t be on the team for the playoff run.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown celebrates with running back Le'Veon Bell after making a 62-yard touchdown in the first quarter during a NFL AFC Wild Card football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Miami Dolphins on Jan. 8, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown celebrates with running back Le'Veon Bell after making a 62-yard touchdown in the first quarter during a NFL AFC Wild Card football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Miami Dolphins on Jan. 8, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In the middle of the third quarter against the Jets, Brown appeared to be getting into a sideline disagreement with Mike Evans. Brown was then seen taking off his gear and throwing some of his belongings into the stands.

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He then cut across the end zone and gave fans the peace sign before he ran back to the tunnel and eventually out of MetLife Stadium. He would later write on Instagram, "Thanks for the opportunity."

He finished the game with three catches for 26 yards.

While Bucs coach Bruce Arians said Brown was "no longer a Buc," Tom Brady called for empathy and compassion toward the wide receiver.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown on the field before the game against the New York Jets on Jan 2, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown on the field before the game against the New York Jets on Jan 2, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

"That’s obviously a difficult situation. I think we all want him to … I think everybody should find, hopefully, do what they can to help him in ways he really needs it. We all love him, we all care about him deeply. We want to see him be at his best and unfortunately it won’t be with our team," Brady said.

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"We have a lot of friendships that will last. Again, I think that the most important thing about football are the relationships with your friends and your teammates, and they go beyond the field. I think everyone should be very compassionate and empathetic toward some very difficult things."