Some things are just too insane not to talk about when it comes up in the news. One of those things is former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, whose continued antics now that he is with the Oakland Raiders make Diontae Johnson and Zach Gentry look better and better. They are the two players the Steelers drafted with the third- and fifth-round draft picks they got from the Raiders for Brown.
The latest on the All-Pro is that he left the team’s training camp yesterday after he successfully tracked down a model helmet of his liking—the Schutt AiR Advantage—that was made fewer than 10 years ago and yet was told that it was not good enough.
Pro Football Talk had previously reported that the outlet had been told the league would allow Brown to wear the model helmet if he could find one of more recent vintage than the one he had worn his entire NFL career, because helmets older than 10 years would not be recertified.
When he did find such a helmet—two, in fact, one from 2011 when it was discontinued and one from 2014 that was made for a movie—the league informed him that it would still have to go through a safety test. He submitted the helmet for inspection. It failed, and the league added the model to its list of prohibited helmets.
Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock spoke to reporters prior to yesterday’s practice to address the elephant in the room, confirming that his absence was related to the helmet issue. “From our perspective, it’s time for him to be all-in or all-out”, he said after maintaining that the team had “pretty much exhausted all avenues of relief”.
Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, took some issue with Mayock’s framing of the situation, denying that the helmet issue is a dead one. “There’s no doubt it’s still an ongoing process”, he said. “We are trying to work with the team and the league and the union to come up with a solution”, he added, before saying that he “wouldn’t make too much” of Brown’s absence. He had returned to camp late last week, even traveling with the team for their second preseason game.
There were dozens of other players, including Tom Brady and Joe Staley, who were forced to change their helmets since the 2018 season because of the new regulations that the NFL and NFLPA are enforcing as a matter of player safety. Brown is literally the only player in the entire league who has not complied, and would seemingly ask the union to take a step in his defense against an act of player safety.
The only point in Brown’s favor he might have is if Pro Football Talk’s information is entirely right, which is that the league originally told him that he could wear a helmet of his preferred model as long as he found a newer one, only to later say it needed to be tested first once he actually did manage to track one down.
Even that, however, doesn’t do him any favors. The helmet did not pass a safety test. It’s a dead issue. Brown must decide if he’s all-in, or all-insane, because the Raiders have a path they can pursue if they so desire to get all of their guaranteed money back if he chooses not to play.