Jon Gruden: Antonio Brown Has Raiders' Support; Confident He'll Be 'Huge Factor'

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IAugust 11, 2019

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown during NFL football minicamp Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Alameda, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Eric Risberg/Associated Press

Antonio Brown wasn't present at the Oakland Raiders' preseason opener Saturday night, but he was a topic of conversation afterward.

"There's been a lot of reports out there," Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said following his team's 14-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Coliseum, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I can't say I agree with all of them. ... This foot injury wasn't his fault, and it's a serious injury. ... And the helmet thing is a personal matter to him ... and we're supporting him."

Gruden added, per Around the NFL: "We're confident he's going to be a huge factor for the Raiders for years to come."

Earlier this week, it was reported that Brown had suffered frostbite on his feet from undergoing cryotherapy in France without proper footwear. Separately, the 31-year-old All-Pro receiver has an ongoing dispute with the NFL over the league's policy that prohibits him from wearing the helmet he's worn his entire career.

ESPN's Kevin Seifert reported that the NFL's policy requiring all players to wear helmets certified by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment has excluded Brown's helmet—also worn by the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady—"because it is more than 10 years old."

NFL Network's Michael Silver provided an in-depth 20-tweet thread about Brown's helmet situation Friday, including the following:

Michael Silver @MikeSilver

2) Brown’s vocal resistance to the mandate, both during OTAs and shortly after his arrival in Napa, Calif. for training camp, has contributed to a disconnect with the team that acquired the seven-time Pro Bowl selection via a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers last March...

ESPN's Adam Schefter added that Brown has told Raiders officials he will not play unless he is able to wear his preferred helmet.

"I think we're all disappointed," Gruden previously told The Athletic's Lindsay Jones on Aug. 2 pertaining to Brown's absence from training camp. "We want to get the party started."

The Raiders acquired Brown in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he had spent his entire career, in March. The seven-time Pro Bowler's tenure in Pittsburgh came to as dramatic an ending as the beginning of his time in Oakland.

Brown vaguely addressed what has unfolded over the last week in an Instagram post Friday captioned, "I love the game; I love the hustle; young-in got doe he can leave the league but if I leave will the fans still gone love me man?"

Brown is signed to a three-year, $50.125 million contract with the Raiders. Should Brown take the field for Oakland, Gruden will hope to see the same man that has surpassed 1,000 yards receiving for six consecutive seasons.