In case you’ve been living under a rock, new wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders Antonio Brown has already begun to cause the team headaches. Due to an issue with him not being able to wear the helmet of his choice, Brown has threatened to retire if he can’t have his way. It’s also been reported that he’s already started to frustrate his new team. Head coach for the Raiders had a chance to address the controversy after their win versus the Los Angeles Rams.
“There’s been a lot of reports out there. I can’t say I agree with all of them,” said Gruden in the post-game press conference. “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.“
It’s a typically vague answer, but there is a little bit to unpack. Ever since Chris Simms reported that Brown messed up his feet due to the misuse of a cryotherapy machine, it’s been assumed that he is somewhat at fault for the injury. Gruden statement makes it seem like there is more to it. How exactly Brown hurt his feet may forever be a mystery, but the only way the Raiders are going to put up with his antics is if he gets on the field and produces.
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Brown’s Return to the Team Could Be Soon
The optics of this whole situation is a PR nightmare for Brown and the team. Before this whole thing got out of hand, the team seemed to be on a good trajectory. The offense has looked sharp in training camp and the defense is filled with young talent. If Brown returns soon and stops causing drama, the negative headlines will fade into obscurity. According to The Atheltic’s Vic Tafur, Brown’s return should be coming soon.
His return would bring a media circus, but if the team and Brown can survive, the news cycle will focus on something else. Brown has always been drama, so it’s hard to know if this is going to be an ongoing issue, even if he does return to the team. The Raiders wide receivers have shown up well with Brown absent. Tyrell Williams, J.J. Nelson and Hunter Renfrow seem to be really good options, but they’re not on the level of Brown. Add him to that group and the Raiders have one of the most talented receiving corps in the NFL.
Time will tell if Brown is worth the headache, but the Raiders gave him a big contract. They’re stuck with him for the foreseeable future. It’s hard to deal with him while it’s the preseason, but once he starts putting up 200 receiving yard games and scores touchdowns, it’s going to be a lot easier to tune out the noise. The team just has to hope that he doesn’t stick to his retirement threat.