As the Oakland Raiders finished up their last practice of training camp in Napa on Sunday, there was one player who was noticeably absent. That player was Antonio Brown and general manager Mike Mayock gave a revealing interview with the media where he said that Brown needs to be “all in, or all out.”
His absence was due to frustration with the NFL’s recent decision which will not allow him to wear his preferred helmet. Brown thought he may have an out by finding the same model of helmet he wanted that was manufactured within the last 10 years, but that has proven to be difficult, per Pro Football Talk.
Following Sunday’s absence, The Athletic’s Vic Tafur reported that Brown returned to the team for their final team meeting in Napa before camp officially breaks.
The fact that there was no practice today is interesting because it’s unknown whether or not Brown would have participated in drills. In turn, that would have given us a better idea of the progress on his helmet issue.
Regardless, it’s a good sign that he’s at least making the effort to show up to meetings. This makes it seem as though there’s a chance he doesn’t want to practice without his helmet because he’s genuinely concerned about safety issues. With training camp wrapping up, the Raiders didn’t get much of a chance to see how Brown fits in the offense. There’s still time to get him acclimated, but the last few weeks have been a huge disappointment.
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Drew Rosenhaus Does Damage Control
While the Mayock interview certainly put some heat on Antonio Brown’s camp, his agent Drew Rosenhaus has had to make the rounds for some damage control. He appeared on ESPN’s Get Up to add more context to the issue.
“I do think he’s going to be back soon,” Rosenhaus said. “We’re looking into any and all options right now to resolve the helmet issue. Antonio is very genuine. He wants to be there, he wants to be part of the team, he wants to practice, but he’d also like to do it with the helmet he’s worn his entire life. He wore this helmet in pee-wee football, high school football, college at Central Michigan, and he also wore this helmet his nine-year career.”
Saying that he’s been wearing the same type of helmet since pee-wee football doesn’t seem like a very good excuse. Technology has come a long way in the last 20 years and it’s safe to assume that newer helmets offer better protection than ones manufactured in the 90s.
“We’ve worked very closely with the Raiders, we’ve worked very closely with the NFL, but I hope people can appreciate, this is not a simple issue,” continued Rosenhaus. “The helmet is the most important piece of equipment and he’s had the same one every single snap he’s played in his football career. This is a major issue for him.”
Brown’s reseasoning for being worried may be misguided, but it seems like he could be genuinely hesitant to try a new helmet because of safety concerns. That being said, there’s very little chance he’ll win this battle in the end. The NFL will almost certainly get what they want, as they usually do. Brown just needs to decide if this is a big enough issue to keep him from playing and must do so very soon because the Raiders have dedicated a lot of cap space to him and need him on the field.