Why the Antonio Brown Helmet Saga Is Great for the NFL

It's drama without consequence, and distracting everyone from real issues

Antonio Brown
The NFL is keeping receiver Antonio Brown's helmet in the headlines
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
By Kirk Miller / August 19, 2019 11:59 am

At 11:26 a.m. on Monday, the top headline at both NFL.com and ESPN’s website were regarding Antonio Brown and his on-going helmet fracas.

Quick update via the Worldwide Leader in Sports: After reports that the mercurial Oakland Raiders wide receiver had once again left camp due to his dissatisfaction with his league-mandated helmet, agent Drew Rosenhaus (no stranger to big, distracting headlines) said the helmet issue was about safety and that Brown was “all in” with the Raiders. Also, even though the receiver wasn’t in camp, he hadn’t “left” camp and was still in the area.

Soap opera? Diva behavior? Legitimate safety concern? As far as the NFL goes, it doesn’t matter.

What does matter: It’s the lead story.

And outside of a few days last week — when Brown (who also has frostbite, which has been story #2 of the off-season) was back in camp and on the Raiders sideline — it’s been everyone’s focus during the NFL preseason. For the league, the Brown story works on multiple levels: A high-profile player is defying the player’s union. It’s pumping up interest in this season’s surprisingly lackluster edition of the training camp reality show Hard Knocks (which is about the Raiders).

And it’s a great distraction for the league from the following:

If you’re listening to sports radio or watching Pardon the Interruption today or, let’s be honest, the next two weeks, expect a lot of finger-pointing at Brown … and just a little less substance elsewhere.

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