P Josh Bidwell (9) has given his good friend Matt Bryant the support he knows Bryant would give him in a similar situation
"To try to walk one of your best friends through something that's your worst nightmare is pretty hard to do, pretty surreal. But he'd be there for me and do the exact same things that I've done. I'm going to stick with him and everybody on the team is doing the same thing." - Josh Bidwell
Tampa Bay Buccaneers punter Josh Bidwell spent most of Wednesday with Matt Bryant and his family, providing love and support when the Bryants needed it most. On Wednesday morning, the youngest son of Matt and Melissa Bryant, three-month-old Tryson, passed away unexpectedly.
Bidwell and his wife, Bethany, have two young sons of their own. Like any parent confronted with the tragic situation that befell the Bryants, Bidwell's grief was spiked by thoughts about the well-being of his own children. But the Bryants needed Bidwell to help them be strong during the worst moments of their lives, and he was there for them.
Bidwell said the rest of the Buccaneers' organization has also done well in providing the Bryants with the right amount of support and distance.
"[Buccaneer players] are doing well," said Bidwell. "The response has been great. Guys have tried to respect their privacy and not overwhelm them, because there are a lot of guys that have been going over there to say hi and then quite a few guys have sent messages to respect their privacy. Like I said, it couldn't be more perfect, the way this Buccaneer family has handled it."
Bidwell said the Bryants are faring well, given the circumstances. He credited the foundational strength of the Bryant family as the key to keeping them strong at this time. He also noted the irony in that situation; the Bryants are well-known for the support they have provided to other families in their community who have faced difficult situations.
"They're a great family," said Bidwell. "You'd be really proud of them. I'm very proud of them. I'm proud of the support that they've gotten from their friends in the neighborhood and from the team, top to bottom. It's extremely difficult to be around this situation but I couldn't imagine a better response to it, to be honest with you."
Bidwell was excused from the team's activities on Wednesday, of course, so that he could be with the Bryants. The veteran punter was back at work Thursday, however, as the team prepares through heavy hearts for Sunday's game against Green Bay. Bidwell acknowledged that the events of Wednesday made his work at One Buccaneer Place seem much less significant.
Still, it's work that must be done.
"We do have a job to do and we're going to be ready to do that," said Bidwell. "But we definitely know what's important in life and, in this situation, that's taking care of Matt and his family and making sure they get through this."
Whether or not Bryant chooses to return to the team and take part in Sunday's game is even less significant. It is an issue that will be resolved in one way or another by Sunday, however. Bidwell said that the team is leaving that decision in Bryant's hands, letting the veteran kicker determine for himself how much time he needs away from the workplace.
"He's got free rein, obviously, by the team to do what he needs to do to be okay," said Bidwell. "To be honest with you, I wouldn't be surprised to see him try to get out there but I wouldn't fault him in any way if he just couldn't get out there. Something like this would take time for a lot of people. I'm proud of him either way. He's doing a great job and responding well and embracing the love and support that we're giving him."