NAPA, Calif. — Wide receiver Antonio Brown said last week the reports of him possibly retiring over not being able to wear his preferred helmet were not true.
But after Sunday’s events, that may change.
It appeared Brown was set to return to practice on Sunday, but he was not on the field for the club’s afternoon workout. With players finishing individual drills, general manager Mike Mayock provided an impromptu statement, essentially issuing an ultimatum to Brown.
“You all know that AB is not here today,” Mayock said. “So here’s the bottom line: He’s upset about the helmet issue. We have supported that, we appreciate that. But at this point, we’ve pretty much exhausted all avenues of relief. So from that perspective, it’s time for him to be all in, or all out. OK? So, we’re hoping he’s back soon. We’ve got 89 guys busting their tails. We are really excited about where this franchise is going. And we hope AB’s going to be a big part of it starting Week 1 against Denver. End of story.”
Mayock took no questions and his statement lasted less than a minute. But the first-year general manger sent a clear message to his star player.
Brown lost his grievance with the NFL for the right to wear his preferred helmet last Monday, and was back at the Raiders facility on Tuesday. Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus arrived with his client, and told the media that the helmet issue was not why Brown had been away from the team. Rosenhaus also said he and Brown were close to finding a helmet solution for 2019 and beyond.
But Brown retweeted a story from Pro Football Talk indicating the helmet he found was not approved on Saturday night. And with his absence Sunday, there’s clearly work still to be done to find a solution that suits Brown.
The wideout has worn a Schutt Air Advantage helmet since entering the NFL as a sixth-round pick in 2010. Brown participated in pregame warmups before the Raiders’ Thursday preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, wearing a helmet and pads. He also participated in the Raiders’ Saturday walk-through sessions, with both coach Jon Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr praising Brown’s recall of the playbook.
With the Raiders regular-season slate beginning Sept. 9 with a “Monday Night Football” contest against the Broncos, Brown now has just four weeks to figure it all out.