Oakland star Antonio Brown could quit NFL over helmet standoff, report says

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown could be sitting for almost any reason from head to toe, apparently. And if not allowed to use the helmet of his choice, Brown reportedly told the Raiders he won’t be coming back.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Friday that Brown informed the Raiders of the line in the sand over use of his preferred helmet. That model, however, was discontinued and is no longer approved under NFL rules.

Before Friday, Brown reportedly was idle at training camp and for the start of his first preseason with the Raiders due to a cryotherapy mishap. But while the frostbite-type symptoms are legitimate, a source told ESPN, the real reason for the former All-Pro sitting out is his helmet.

Furthermore, NFL Network’s Mike Silver reported things have been anything but peaceful between Brown and the Raiders, who acquired the wide receiver via trade in the offseason. Among other issues, Brown has been chronically late, uses technology during meetings and does not communicate with team officials and coaches.

Brown, ESPN reported, filed a grievance to continue using the helmet he wore his entire career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now a discontinued model, the NFL will not permit use of the helmet because it is no longer certified by the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE).

A hearing, per the report, could occur as early as next week.

A similar situation occurred with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

But Silver reported Brown took the Raiders by surprise with his sudden hard-line stance. Per Silver, “When he showed up for the 1st OTA, however, Brown requested his old helmet. After being told he’d have to wear an approved model, witnesses say, the WR loudly voiced his displeasure, complaining QBs such as Brady and Rodgers were not being subjected to the same scrutiny.

“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.

“The following day, Brown showed up in Alameda and acted like nothing had happened, accepting the new helmet from an equipment manager without protest and completing the workout. 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.”

Silver said the Raiders felt, at that time, the helmet saga was over. Apparently, it’s not.

A league policy limits players to helmets certified by NOCSAE. NOCSAE will not certify any helmet older than 10 years.

The NFL and NFLPA added 11 helmets to their joint list of approved models for the 2019 season. At the end of last season, the NFL said 32 players were wearing helmets that became banned for 2019.

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