It turns out that Brady did really help Noah by posting a video on his mother’s Instagram.
“Hey Noah, how are you doing? I just wanted to let you know I’m thinking about you,” Brady said in the video. “I know you’re one of my biggest fans in Utah, and I know you’ve got a great family that loves you, and support your mom and dad and your siblings. And I just want to let you know I’m thinking about you, I’m with you. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Hang tough. You’re going to be great, I know it. Get well soon and take care, bye bye.”
Noah had been having severe headaches in December 2020, and a small-sized tumor was found in February.
“It’s one of those tragic moments you read about where they turn the screen around and say, ‘You have cancer,’ ” Noah’s mother, Jacque, told KSL in Salt Lake City. “And in our case, they turned it around and showed us Noah’s tumor in the center of his head and said he has brain cancer and we need to get him to the hospital today.”
Noah had two surgeries, chemo and radiation and, when Brady’s video arrived, Jacque wrote on Instagram: “Noah and I were in the car (still parked in our driveway) emotionally broken down, having a heart to heart about mental toughness through adversity,” she wrote. “Then, out of the blue, this [video]. What?!! We both looked at each other and started sobbing more. Then laughing. And Tom Brady … you’re the greatest. You just relit a big fire of courage in this little boy’s cancer fight.”
Noah finished treatment in July, and scans showed his tumor was gone. Among the images on his family’s Instagram story of his fight was one image of Noah with “12” shaved into his hairline. Jacque wrote on her Instagram story that Brady had “changed my boy’s life.” Brady seemed moved, too.
“That was really sweet,” Brady said. “Obviously a tough kid, man. It puts a lot into perspective of what we’re doing on the field. In the end, it doesn’t mean much, compared to what people go through. We all try to make a difference in different ways.”
During the game, wide receiver Mike Evans nearly made the kind of difference that Brady, a man with a notoriously vivid memory for slights, would not have forgotten when he gave away a football he had caught for a touchdown.
“The Duke” may have looked like a garden-variety official ball, right down to Roger Goodell’s signature, but it was anything but. It happened to be the football that was the pass that left Brady’s hand and landed in Evans’s for TD No. 600, and Brady later admitted that, while he doesn’t keep a lot of things, that ball was special.
As he sat on the bench after the offense left the field, Evans learned the magnitude of what he had done from Coach Bruce Arians. “I gave the ball away,” a TV camera caught him saying with a look that lay somewhere between embarrassment and disbelief.
“I said, ‘You’re going to have to go give that guy two jerseys to get that ball back,’ ” Arians joked after the game. “I was like, either get two of Tom’s [or two of yours] but you need to get that ball back for him. And he said, ‘Does he really want that ball?’ And I said, ‘I’m betting he wants that ball.’ ”
The Buccaneers dispatched an official to strike a bargain with the fan, identified as Byron Kennedy. He swapped the ball for two signed jerseys and a helmet from Brady, a signed Evans jersey and his game cleats, $1,000 credit at the team store and two season passes for the rest of the season and next season, according to TampaBay.com. During an appearance with Peyton and Eli Manning on ESPN’s Monday night “Manningcast,” Brady said he would give Kennedy a bitcoin, too. Current value: just under $63,000. All three admitted that Brady and the Bucs got off cheap, given that early valuations of the ball are at $500,000.
“Byron realized he lost all of his leverage once he gave the ball away,” Brady said. “He should’ve held it to get as much leverage as possible.” Peyton Manning agreed: “Amateur move,” he said. “If he would’ve held it, he would’ve been sitting in the Tom Brady suite for the rest of the season. Amateur move on his part.”
As for Evans, he was apologetic after recovering from his initial surprise. “[Evans] goes: ‘Man, I’m sorry, man. I’ll get it,’ ” Brady said Sunday. “I said: ‘It’s all right. I’m sure they’ll find a way to get it back.’ But I don’t actually keep too many things so … in that circumstance, I just felt like that might be a good one to keep. He’s going to get something nice in return. So we’ll get him a helmet or a couple jerseys or some other stuff. That was really cool of him to do that.”
Evans remained penitent Sunday evening. “Sorry big bro,” he tweeted with goat and prayer emoji. “Glad that priceless legendary item was retrieved.”
Luckily, Brady forgave Evans, targeting him for two more touchdowns in the Buccaneers’ 38-3 victory over the Chicago Bears. The win was numerically significant for another reason. Tampa Bay has 162 points in four home games this season, the same number of points that Brady’s New England Patriots scored in the first four home games of the team’s 16-0 regular season run, according to Elias Sports. The Buccaneers aren’t going to duplicate that run, though. They’ve already lost to the Los Angeles Rams.