Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar quarterback Tom Brady is not having a season that NFL fans have grown accustomed to seeing from him.
His Bucs are just 3-5 on the season, and in Thursday night’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Brady lost his third game in a row for the first time since 2002.
His struggles are not isolated to the field either. Sadly, Brady and supermodel Gisele Bundchen, his wife of 13 years, announced on Friday that the two have finalized their divorce.
According to Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal, Brady’s struggles on the field and in his personal life are not unrelated. He recently linked the two issues when talking about his own 2006 divorce and struggles on the court.
Lakers fans will remember that by that point in his career, O’Neal was a member of the Miami Heat and no longer playing in L.A.
“During the 2006 Finals, I was going through a divorce, and I couldn’t do anything right,” O’Neal stated. “That’s when I had to give everything to D-Wade (Dwyane Wade), like, ‘I don’t have it.’ Tom’s going through a tough time right now. It has nothing to do with his age or football, but when you’re dealing with that real-life stuff, it takes a lot. … I know he’s going through a lot. I don’t know his situation, but I wish him well, and hopefully they can reconcile and get back together.”
Though O’Neal always seemed larger than life during his career, he has since become a much more emotionally honest and open person in his post-playing days. It is unique and meaningful to see him empathize with Brady.
Perhaps the biggest difference is that while O’Neal was able to lean on Wade in the 2006 NBA Finals, which the Heat ultimately won, Brady doesn’t have anyone who he can really share the load with.
Throughout his incredible NFL career, he has gained the reputation of being a singular leader who can practically will his team to victory no matter the circumstances.
With Tampa Bay 3-5 on the season, that reputation is starting to be brought into question.
It is hard to know what will happen for Brady in his private life, but there is still a glimmer of hope for himself and the Bucs on the gridiron this season. That hope exists in the fact that they are arguably playing in the worst division in the NFL this season.
The Bucs are right behind the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South division race. Moreover, two of their three wins have come against division rivals.
Despite an incredible slow start to the season, they’re still right in the thick of it when it comes to competing for a division title, which would ensure their appearance in the playoffs later this season.