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Raiders' Antonio Brown Reportedly Threatens Retirement over Helmet Grievance

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 9, 2019

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown speaks to reporters after an official team activity at the NFL football team's headquarters in Alameda, Calif., Tuesday, May 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown has threatened to retire unless he's allowed to wear his old helmet, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The reporter explained the helmet dilemma:

"The helmet that Brown is comfortable in and has worn throughout his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers --believed to be the Schutt Air Advantage helmet, which the company has discontinued making -- is no longer certified by the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). 

"The NFL has a policy of not allowing players to wear helmets that are not certified by NOCSAE. NOCSAE's rule has been that no helmets older than 10 years can be worn."

Brown reportedly filed a grievance against the NFL on Friday and held a two-hour conference call with league officials on the matter.             

Per Schefter, Brown's concern with the new helmet is that it "protrudes out and interferes with his vision as he tries to catch the football."

Brown seemed to insinuate the possibility of leaving football in an Instagram caption, although he didn't specifically discuss why:

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AB's caption on his latest IG post 👀🚶‍♂️ (🏈 @brgridiron) https://t.co/Qj2mjakGkc

The 31-year-old's Raiders career has not started as planned after an offseason trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers. He suffered extreme frostbite on his feet after reportedly failing to wear proper footwear in a cryotherapy chamber and has been hindered on the practice field.

Michael Silver of NFL Network dropped a 20-tweet thread about the Brown helmet saga, with the most notable remarks below:

Michael Silver @MikeSilver

THREAD: 1) Even before suffering bizarre injuries to his feet, Antonio Brown alarmed Raiders coaches and teammates by railing against the NFL’s enhanced enforcement of helmet regulations, a policy change which will likely force the star receiver to switch to a new model...

Michael Silver @MikeSilver

5) His continued frustration surrounding the situation has created a buzz among teammates and coaches, one of whom referred to the saga as “honestly the most insane thing I have ever heard. I don’t know why it’s so important to him. It doesn’t make any sense.” ...

Michael Silver @MikeSilver

13) 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...

Michael Silver @MikeSilver

19) Brown, according to witnesses, typically glances at the screens of several tablets and his smart phone during meetings, distracting himself by engaging in activities which include perusing his bank accounts and “liking” photos on Instagram...

Michael Silver @MikeSilver

20) Still, according to one source, “the meeting thing isn’t that bad… but the feet, helmet and going dark is an issue.” (END)

All of this news comes after Chase Williams of WPXI reported Thursday morning that Brown has gone "radio silent" with the Raiders, who "have zero clue where he is or what the progress of the foot injury is."

Brown's status for his team's Sept. 9 opener against the Denver Broncos (and the entire season) looks to be in jeopardy, per Schefter.

And that's a huge blow to the Raiders, who made a significant investment when they signed Brown to a three-year, $50.1 million contract ($30.1 million guaranteed) in March. He stands as Oakland's top acquisition in an offseason that featured significant personnel overhaul via the draft and free agency.

If Brown misses any time, free-agent signing Tyrell Williams should be the No. 1 wideout. The ex-Los Angeles Charger caught 41 passes for 653 yards and five touchdowns last season.

J.J. Nelson and Marcell Ateman figure to be the next men up on the outside. In limited action, Nelson had just seven catches for 64 yards in 14 games for the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. Ateman snagged 15 receptions for 154 yards and a score for Oakland.

Rookie Hunter Renfrow was listed as the team's starting slot wideout on the initial depth chart and should stay there.

The Raiders were projected to be one of the NFL's worst teams even with Brown: Per the Westgate SuperBook (h/t Scott T. Miller of the Action Network), Oakland was tied for the third-lowest over/under win total with six on July 31.

If Brown is sidelined for any reason, the Raiders could be contending for the No. 1 overall pick next year.

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