What started out as something that didn’t seem to be cause for concern for Antonio Brown and the Oakland Raiders, has now appeared to have gotten serious.
In addition to dealing with frostbite on his feet that has kept him out of practice for almost all of training camp, it was revealed on Friday that part of the reason Brown has been away from the team is due to a helmet issue.
Brown reportedly filed a grievance against the NFL to be allowed to wear the helmet he prefers, which is no longer certified by NOCSAE — the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment.
The issue just got real for the Raiders though as according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Brown is refusing to play if he cannot use his old helmet:
Wide receiver Antonio Brown has told the Oakland Raiders that unless he can wear his old helmet, he will not play football again, league sources told ESPN on Friday.
League sources told ESPN that Brown had a two-hour conference call with league officials on Friday in an attempt to argue why he should be allowed to wear his 10-year-old helmet.
A decision could come as early as next week, sources told ESPN.
The reason that Brown is so adamant about this is he feels he is not able to see with the new, approved helmets:
Brown wants be allowed to wear the helmet he prefers, not one of the helmets that league rules mandate, league sources said. Brown believes the certified helmet that rules mandate he wears protrudes out and interferes with his vision as he tries to catch the football.
The Raiders have been sending Brown other approved helmets to wear but, at this time, he is not interested in wearing any of them.
The Raiders knew that drama surrounding Brown when they traded for him after he forced his way out of Pittsburgh, but no one could have predicted that things would be this bad, this soon.
Hopefully the Raiders, Brown and the league can work together to figure out some sort of solution so he can be back on the field by Week 1 of the regular season, and this whole saga will be nothing but a blimp in a long, successful relationship between Brown and the Raiders.