The Antonio Brown saga in Oakland continues to get stranger.
As the football world digests reports that the wide receiver willingly exposed himself to frostbite by entering a cryotherapy chamber without proper foot protection, he’s now reportedly waging a battle with the Raiders to wear a helmet that has been deemed unsafe by the NFL.
Brown threatens to sit over helmet
And according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, he won’t play unless he gets his way.
And now this: Raiders’ WR Antonio Brown has told team officials that, unless he gets to wear his old helmet, he will not play football again, per league sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 9, 2019
Schefter reported earlier Friday that Brown had filed a grievance with the NFL to wear the same model helmet he wore with the Pittsburgh Steelers. According to the report, the helmet features an outdated design and is not certified by the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment, a certification that the league requires.
The helmet hearing
A grievance hearing over the helmet originally slated for next week was moved up to Friday, when Brown spent two hours pleading his case, according to the report. An arbiter will reportedly rule whether Brown will be allowed to wear his preferred helmet that doesn’t meet modern safety specifications to protect his head.
But that’s just the beginning of this chapter.
NFL Network’s Michael Silver has details of Brown’s battle with the Raiders to wear his preferred helmet. He unleashed the tale in a 20-post Twitter thread Friday afternoon. And it’s a doozy.
The dirty details
The short version is that Brown has been battling with the team over wearing the helmet since OTAs, baffling teammates and management alike while taking multiple surreptitious tacks to sneak said unsafe helmet onto the practice field.
And while his frostbitten feet have been getting all the attention, it’s his helmet that’s been the real source of discord with the team.
Here are some of the highlights.
Brown made a spectacle around the team over his displeasure with the helmet mandate:
THREAD: 1) Even before suffering bizarre injuries to his feet, Antonio Brown alarmed Raiders coaches and teammates by railing against the NFL’s enhanced enforcement of helmet regulations, a policy change which will likely force the star receiver to switch to a new model...— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) August 9, 2019
Brown harped on the issue repeatedly, even as his frostbitten feet became apparent:
4) Brown initially left to seek an additional medical opinion on his frostbitten feet. Before leaving, Brown pushed back for a third time against the league’s prohibition of the helmet model he has worn for his entire nine-year career...— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) August 9, 2019
“The most insane thing I have ever heard:”
5) His continued frustration surrounding the situation has created a buzz among teammates and coaches, one of whom referred to the saga as “honestly the most insane thing I have ever heard. I don’t know why it’s so important to him. It doesn’t make any sense.” ...— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) August 9, 2019
Brown “stormed out” because he wasn’t allowed to wear his preferred helmet:
11) Shortly thereafter, Brown stormed out of the facility in protest. Later that day, Raiders officials found video footage of Rodgers, during the Green Bay Packers’ OTA session, wearing an approved-model helmet and texted it to Brown...— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) August 9, 2019
He painted his old helmet to try and fool people:
13) However, sometime in the next couple of weeks, Brown once again tried to take the field with his old helmet, which he had since had repainted with colors approximating—but not completely mimicking—the Raiders’ silver-and-black design...— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) August 9, 2019
He tried to sneak his old helmet on the field again:
15) But Brown, who practiced on his tender feet for only two days before leaving Napa to seek another opinion, tried yet again to sneak his old helmet onto the practice field, ultimately being told by team officials to remove it...— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) August 9, 2019
He went AWOL:
16) “He’s still freaking out about it,” said one Raiders player. “He hasn’t been here for awhile, and no one knows where he’s at.” ...— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) August 9, 2019
Schefter later reported that Brown is unsatisfied with newer-model helmets because he believes a protrusion impedes his vision and his ability to catch the football.
He also reported that Brown’s absence from camp was primarily over the helmet conflict, not his frostbitten feet.
The Raiders declined to comment on the helmet situation with Schefter.
The Raiders are “aware and supportive of Antonio Brown but no further comment.”
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