NFL Issues Response to Antonio Brown’s Helmet Complaints

If Brown doesn't play because of a helmet issue, he will not get paid

Antonio Brown Pittsburgh Steelers
Antonio Brown celebrates a touchdown on December 23, 2018. (Chris Graythen/Getty)
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By Evan Bleier / August 12, 2019 12:48 pm

Following independent research into helmet safety and technology, the NFL told all players in 2017 they’d have to wear new helmets by 2018. Some players were granted a one-year grandfather period which pushed the deadline to don correct helmets to the start of this season.

Antonio Brown, who is currently not with the Oakland Raiders as he attempts to rehab a frostbite injury (you read that right), had a two-hour grievance hearing Friday with an independent arbitrator where he made the argument he should be able to wear his old helmet, the same one he’d had for more than 10 years.

During the hearing, Brown’s side warned the league he would hold the NFL liable if he suffers a head injury in an approved-model helmet that’s being forced on him, Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic reports.

In a tweet posted Monday, league spokesman Brian McCarthy clarified the NFL’s policy about helmets in response to Brown’s grievance without mentioning the wide receiver by name.

“The player can’t practice or play in games with equipment that’s not approved,” McCarthy wrote. “If he doesn’t play or practice he is in breach of his contract and doesn’t get paid. Nfl policy is that Helmets have to be certified by NOSCAE [National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment]. They don’t certify equipment that’s old[er] than 10 years.”

So, based on that, it certainly sounds as if the league has no intention of changing its policy — which was collectively bargained with the NFLPA and has been viewed as a victory by both sides — or making an exception on Brown’s behalf.

That puts him, and the Raiders, in quite a pickle.

Longtime NFL writer Peter King offered his thoughts on the matter in today’s FMIA column:

“Brown has to grow up, or he’s got to get some help. Someone in his life, if anyone has a scintilla of influence over him (and that is in doubt), needs to say to him: The Raiders could void your contract for this behavior, and you’d be out $30.1 million in guaranteed money, and what team would pay you even a fraction of that after? You walked out on the Steelers and then turned into a child on the Raiders and boycotted them too—in the span of nine months!”

Regardless, should make for good eating on Tuesday night’s episode of Hard Knocks on HBO.

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