Antonio Brown skips practice over helmet issue; Raiders GM wants him 'all in or out'
It seemed like it was over. It seemed Antonio Brown was willing to move forward without his old Schutt AiR Advantage helmet after predictably losing his grievance against the NFL. It seemed Brown was ready to start the season after participating in pregame drills with the Oakland Raiders on Thursday.
But things are never over with Antonio Brown, apparently.
An exasperated Raiders general manager Mike Mayock announced to the media on Sunday that Brown was holding out of practice because of the helmet issue. Mayock did not seem happy about the situation.
Mayock’s full statement:
You all know that AB is not here today. So here’s the bottom line. He’s upset about the helmet issue. We have supported that. We appreciate that, OK? But at this point, we’ve pretty much exhausted all avenues of relief. So, from our perspective, it’s time for him to be all in or all out. OK? So we’re hoping he’s back soon. We’ve got 89 guys busting their tails. We are really excited about where this franchise is going. And we hope AB’s going to be a big part of it starting Week 1 against Denver. End of story, no questions.
And just like that, the Antonio Brown helmet story that has dominated the Raiders’ preseason has been given new life.
Antonio Brown still wants his helmet
Brown skipping practice comes after a Saturday night in which he posted on Twitter that he was the victim of “Super Prejudice” because the NFL reportedly closed a loophole that would have allowed the wide receiver to use a Schutt AiR Advantage helmet that was fewer than 10 years old.
The 31-year-old had seemed intent on taking advantage of that loophole, asking the public if anyone could provide him a helmet to wear. With those plans quashed, Brown is out of practice again after missing a major portion of camp due to his infamous cryotherapy frostbite injury, and the Raiders seem to be running out of patience.
You can only fault Brown so much for the time missed with frostbite since it was due to an accident, but sitting out of practice over the helmet is another issue. The Raiders have seemed as supportive as they can be while Brown has done everything he can to push the NFL into letting him use his helmet.
The Raiders might not be as supportive if Brown starts actually hurting the team by refusing to practice, as shown by Mayock’s statement.
Agent says AB isn’t done yet
Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus disagreed with Mayock’s assessment that the team has “exhausted all avenues of relief” during an appearance on a Miami television station.
Rosenhaus didn’t specify what avenue might be left for Brown, but he claimed the helmet fight is still an “ongoing process” and that they’re working with the Raiders, the NFL and the NFLPA to come up with a solution for a problem that was announced 18 months ago.
With his grievance failed and the NFL Players Association having jointly announced with the league that his helmet is too unsafe to use, Brown’s only options appear to be to drop the issue, potentially rack up fines from the Raiders by sitting out or sue the league. Maybe Rosenhaus is implying a deal to give Brown his helmet is still possible, but it’s hard to see the NFL capitulating on this.
Nobody seems to know what Brown will do at this point, including the Raiders.
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