After a lot of drama, everything returned to normal Saturday with Antonio Brown’s return to practice with the Oakland Raiders.
Brown’s return to the team walkthrough was very impressive to quarterback Derek Carr, who was amazed by Brown’s recall and sharpness despite his time on the sidelines.
“The man’s recall is unbelievable,” Carr said, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN. “He came in and no mental errors, and in this offense, that’s not easy to do. Especially, whenever you have a day off … you come back and you’re like, you’ve got to stay on Coach Gruden’s offense all the time. You can tell Antonio’s been studying because he came out and didn’t miss a beat.”
This is going to be music to Raiders’ fans years after a lot of negative headlines involving Brown lately. He’s still one of the most talented players in the league, and if he can emphasize that and not the off-field drama, the Raiders should be happy with their acquisition after all.
Antonio Brown returned to Oakland Raiders training camp this week after his helmet grievance with the NFL was denied. While Brown was away from the team, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the wide receiver was telling the Raiders he would not play football again unless he could wear his old helmet.
Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus denied the report, saying Brown never considered retirement. On Thursday, Brown said the rumors bothered his family, per CSN Bay Area’s Scott Bair:
More Antonio Brown, on having 'tough skin" pic.twitter.com/bD1zWT9BoA
— Scott Bair (@BairNBCS) August 16, 2019
“For me, as an athlete, you have to have tough skin,” Brown said, via Bair. “People always talk, and try to bring you down. I just think it’s tough for the people who love me, that they have to hear it when they know the type of person I am and what I stand for. I hate it when my mom and dad call me and say, ‘What the f—? Retirement? Where’d he get that?’ I never said that. That’s the hardest part for me as an athlete.
“You have to have tough skin and not pay attention to what people say. Not everybody hates me. Maybe a small percentage do, but I like to focus on the big picture. If you guys could calm it down, man, that would really help my family. Can you guys help me out with the stuff that goes out there? I don’t mind, but my family gets really stressed out.”
Schefter’s original report says Brown was refusing to play unless he got his way with the helmet. That’s effectively a retirement threat. Schefter isn’t known for inaccuracies in his reporting, so we doubt he would throw something out there that wasn’t well-sourced. However, Brown was the victim of at least some bad reporting, so any frustration from the wide receiver and/or his family would be understandable.
Antonio Brown is still trying to find a helmet that he will be comfortable wearing after his old one was deemed unsafe by the NFL, and former wide receiver Chad Johnson has offered to cut him a deal.
When Brown took to Twitter on Tuesday to ask fans for help finding a newer version of the helmet he has always worn, Johnson made him an offer. The ex-Cincinnati Bengals star says if Brown can convince Raiders head coach Jon Gruden to let Johnson play in the slot on third downs, Johnson will give Brown his old helmet.
I’ll give you my Schutt Air Advantage Adult Large Helmet that i wore in 2010 if you tell Gruden to let me play in the slot on 3rd downs https://t.co/GCuUy3DPxS
— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) August 13, 2019
Neither one of those things are going to happen. The issue with Brown’s old helmet is that it is a model that was manufactured more than 10 years ago. Chances are the same is true for the helmet Johnson wore in 2010. There’s also no chance Johnson is going to play in the NFL again, as his last appearance in a game was back in 2011.
Brown has bigger problems this offseason than his helmet, but it has clearly been a major source of frustration for him. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Johnson will be of much help to him.
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The drama surrounding Antonio Brown has been the biggest storyline throughout NFL training camp. The first issue for Brown surrounded the frostbite on his feet. Then the helmet issue arose, which seems to have been resolved after Brown lost his grievance in an arbitration case.
During Tuesday’s episode of “Hard Knocks” on HBO, Brown was shown discussing his feet and how he ended up getting frostbite.
“I literally was on a vacation in Paris. I was training and I was trying cold therapy to recover my body,” Brown said to the HBO camera. “And I got out and I felt my foot burning and I felt a hot sensation. The next 24 hours it swelled up, got really big, I couldn’t really walk or put pressure (on it). The doctor came over, drained a little out, scalpel the next day, scissors the next day, just kind of let everything leak all out. As everything leaked all out, I was able to put a little pressure.
“So now it’s just new skin. I’m trying to get my feet used to it. But I feel I just got a big patch of open Whoopee cushion.”
Brown omitted one key part of the story — he reportedly used improper footwear while doing the cryotherapy.
Brown compared the process his feet have undergone to a circumcision. You can see from a photo he posted in early August that new skin was growing under the dead skin.
Brown is optimistic about his recovery.
“Hopefully my feet born again and I can run faster. Feel sorry for me later,” he said.
What’s odd is that a report last week suggested Brown had gone AWOL and the Raiders were unsure of his whereabouts. Hard Knocks literally having footage of him talking about the issue seems to be clear proof that wasn’t the case.
All those rumors that Antonio Brown would rather walk away from football if he didn’t get to wear his preferred helmet weren’t rooted in reality.
Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, admitted Tuesday that Brown never legitimately considered retiring or walking away from the Oakland Raiders in the midst of his helmet-related drama.
Drew Rosenhaus says there was never any legitimacy to Antonio Brown considering retirement or leaving the team over this helmet issues
— Scott Bair (@BairNBCS) August 13, 2019
Was the threat never real or was Brown simply trying to bluff? The fact that he opted to rejoin the team immediately after the NFL handed down its ruling suggests he figured it would end this way and was trying to bluff, but it certainly seems they wanted the rumor out there.
Antonio Brown has accepted the fact that he cannot continue to wear the helmet he has worn throughout his entire NFL career, and he is now asking fans for help finding him a new one.
Brown took to Twitter on Tuesday morning and described a very specific model of helmet he is on the lookout for. If someone can find one for him, he said he will trade them an autographed Oakland Raiders helmet that he wore during practice.
"I'm looking for a Schutt Air Advantage Adult Large Helmet that was manufactured in 2010 or after. In exchange I will trade a signed practice worn @Raiders helmet."
— AB (@AB84) August 13, 2019
The issue with Brown’s old helmet is that it is a model that was manufactured more than 10 years ago. The NFL’s equipment policy states that players cannot wear helmets that aren’t certified by the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment, and the NOCSAE does not certify helmet models that are more than 10 years old for safety reasons. If Brown can find a similar helmet that was manufactured in the last 10 years, he should be safe for at least another season.
No player in NFL history has ever made more of their headgear. Brown supposedly threatened to retire at one point if the NFL would not let him keep wearing the same helmet, but he lost his grievance on Monday and said he will report to the Raiders. Tom Brady is another player who has to wear a new model of helmet in 2019, though the Patriots quarterback made light of his own situation.
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Like Antonio Brown, Tom Brady is also being forced to wear a different model of helmet this year from the one he has grown accustomed to throughout his career. While Brown may have felt he was being singled out by the league this offseason, Brady thinks there’s a different reason why the NFL is also forcing him to make a change.
In an Instagram post on Tuesday morning, Brady joked that the NFL must not have liked the way his old helmet was working for the Patriots.
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Brady and the Patriots have dominated the NFL for the better part of two decades now, winning six Super Bowls and several more AFC titles. The 42-year-old has worn essentially the same style helmet throughout the whole run, so that appears to be his clever way of saying the league is trying to find a way to stop him.
Of course, that is not the case. The model of helmet that Brady, Brown and others had been wearing no longer meets safety requirements, and they knew they would not be able to wear it this season. For whatever reason, Brown took it personally and reportedly made an absurd threat over it, but he has lost his battle with the NFL and will have to find a new helmet. The same goes for Brady, though he seems to be taking it much more lightly.