NAPA, Calif. — Wide receiver Antonio Brown is returning to training camp today, a day after losing an appeal about the helmet he must wear.
An arbitrator on Monday ruled against Brown who asked to be allowed to wear an old helmet that was not approved by the NFL, meaning Brown must change his headgear to play in 2019.
Not long after the decision came down, Brown posted a short statement on Twitter and Instagram confirming he will still play this season. “While I disagree with the arbitrator’s decision, I’m working on getting back to full health and looking forward to rejoining my teammates on the field. I’m excited about this season (and) appreciate all the concerns about my feet!”
Raiders coach Jon Gruden is next expected to address the media and the Brown decision following Tuesday’s practice.
Brown is believed to have used a Schutt Air Advantage helmet since coming into the league in 2010, but the manufacturer has stopped producing it, and the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment did not certify the helmet for use this season.
A few months ago, the NFL and the league’s Players’ Association announced the results of a study that determined 34 of 40 helmet models reduced head impact upon force testing. The six helmets that didn’t pass the test were banned. Brown’s preferred helmet was not on that list because, given its age, it wasn’t included in the study.
Reportedly, Brown and other high-profile players such as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers were able to wear their old helmets through last season, but now must change to approved gear.
A foot ailment forced Brown to begin camp on the nonfootball injury list, though he was off it just a couple days later. Several outlets reported that Brown injured his foot by not wearing the proper footwear in a cryogenic chamber.
He has not participated in a full practice this camp, missing 10 of 11 sessions in their entirety. Brown did wear a league-prohibited helmet in his one training camp practice July 30. The wide receiver participated solely in individual drills that day.
Early Monday, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy tweeted about the situation but did not mention Brown by name, saying, “The player can’t practice or play in games with equipment that’s not approved. 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. They don’t certify equipment that’s (older) than 10 years.”
The player canât practice or play in games with equipment thatâs not approved. If he doesnât play or practice he is in breach of his contract and doesnât get paid. Nfl policy is that Helmets have to be certified by NOSCAE. They donât certify equipment thatâs old than 10 years.
— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) August 12, 2019
Following Saturday’s 14-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, Gruden voiced his support for Brown while adding that the team understands the league’s position.
“I’ve got a feeling he would play with no helmet; that’s how much he loves to play,” Gruden said. “But I’m not going to put words in anybody’s mouth. We’re going to support him, and whatever his decision is, we’ll stand by him.”
Gruden noted it’s possible Brown could rejoin the Raiders as soon as this week, when the wide receiver will have to use a new helmet.
The team will be back on the field for practice in Napa on Tuesday morning before taking on the Cardinals in Arizona for its second preseason matchup of the summer Thursday night.
Contact Myles Simmons at firstname.lastname@example.org.
■ What: Second installment of a five-episode documentary miniseries following the Raiders during fall camp
■ TV: HBO
■ When: 10 p.m. PT Tuesday
■ Other: Streaming available on HBO Go at 7 p.m. PT