The Oakland Raiders opened the 2019 preseason with a victory on Saturday night, defeating the Los Angeles Rams, 14-3, in the last ever preseason game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Brown recently suffered the injuries to his feet when he didn’t wear the proper footwear in a cryotherapy machine.
After Saturday night’s game, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden spoke about the recent Brown issues for the first time, and he defended his star player, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN:
“I support this guy. I think that’s what needs to be said,” Gruden said following the Raiders’ 14-3 exhibition-opening win over the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday at the Oakland Coliseum. “I don’t know what anybody’s writing or what anybody thinks, but this foot injury wasn’t his fault. This was a total accident. It really wasn’t his fault, and it’s a serious injury. I know that some people are [joking about] it, but it’s really not a laughing matter. The guy is hurt, he didn’t do anything wrong, and the helmet thing is a personal matter to him.”
Brown’s old helmet is no longer certified, but he has no desire to make a change after using it for all nine seasons of his NFL career, so he filed a grievance against the league, with the results still pending. While Gruden is trying to cooperate with the league, he is also supporting Brown in this matter:
“He has a strong feeling about what he’s worn on his head, and we’re supporting him,” Gruden said of Brown. “We understand the league’s position as well, so we’re in a tough spot, and we hope Antonio is here soon because he’s exciting to be around. I’m excited. I’ve got some plays for him. I hope we can start calling them.”
Brown is reportedly threatening to retire if he is not able to use his old helmet, which would be a disaster for the Raiders after acquiring him in a blockbuster trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers and signing him to an extension this offseason.
Gruden is hoping and confident that it will not have to get to that point though:
“I have a lot of confidence that he’s one of the premier competitors that I’ve ever been around,” Gruden said. “And I’ve got a feeling he would play with no helmet — that’s how much he loves to play. But I’m not going to put words in anybody’s mouth. We’re going to support him, and whatever his decision is, we’ll stand by it. But we’re confident that he’s going to be a huge factor for the Raiders for years to come.
“It was a total accident and injury that he’s looking to get right from, and hopefully, with all the people that have seen it, that he’s gotten it cured, and he’s ready to roll.”
There is still plenty of time for Brown to get everything resolved and back on the field before the start of the regular season, which is why Gruden did not sound panicked.
It will be interesting to see how much of this saga will be documented on the upcoming episode of ‘Hard Knocks’ this Tuesday night.