Why the Antonio Brown Helmet Saga Is Great for the NFL
It's drama without consequence, and distracting everyone from real issues
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:
- Jay-Z potentially buying a major stake in an NFL team, right after last week’s extremely contentious announcement of the rapper’s Roc Nation partnership with the league that brought back focus to Colin Kaepernick. Admittedly, this was and remains a big story, but again, this was only a lead story for the few days that Brown was back in camp.
- Seriously, that Jay-Z story keeps adding layers.
- Ezekiel Elliott’s continued contract holdout (also, general issues with Ezekiel Elliott)
- Dumb preseason injuries
- Tyreek Hill somehow isn’t suspended
- Oh, hey, Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck aren’t healthy
- Not the NFL, but since college football is an unpaid pipeline for players into the pros, you might have missed this Louisiana coach (sort of) mandating his team donate to the school’s booster club.
- When’s the last time we brought up concussions or player health? (Ah, right, Brown just did that … and now will be mocked.)
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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