Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock told disgruntled receiver Antonio Brown it’s time to decide whether he’s “all in or all out” about playing this season after losing a fight with the NFL and NFLPA over his helmet.
Mayock issued a statement to reporters that the Raiders released in a video on Twitter expressing his frustration that Brown didn’t participate in practice Sunday despite being healed from the frost-bitten feet that have sidelined him for most of training camp.
“You all know that A.B. is not here today. So here’s the bottom line. He’s upset about the helmet issue. We have supported that. We appreciate that,” Mayock said. “But at this point, we’ve pretty much exhausted all avenues of relief. So from our perspective, it’s time for him to be all in or all out. 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 A.B. is going to be a big part of it starting Week 1 against Denver. End of story. No questions.”
Brown has been upset that the NFL and NFLPA won’t allow him to use the same Schutt Air Advantage that he has used throughout his career. Brown filed a grievance over the issue that he lost on Aug. 12 and then set out to find a newer version of the helmet that was less than 10 years old to get approved.
Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said last week after Brown returned to the Raiders training camp facility that they had found several helmets and were waiting formal approval. Brown took part in pregame warmups before an exhibition game in Arizona on Thursday night and took part in a walkthrough on Saturday, prompting coach Jon Gruden to express confidence that he would soon be able to practice.
The helmet was sent to the independent Biokinetics Inc. lab in Ottawa for testing with results shared with biomechanical engineers from both the league and union, a person familiar with the testing said on condition of anonymity because the results weren’t released. The person said the helmet was no different than the 2010 version that had previously been rejected and both the league and union determined it wasn’t safe enough to be used.
Pro Football Talk first reported the failed test after the Raiders walkthrough on Saturday, prompting a profane response from Brown on Twitter. He then didn’t take part in practice Sunday, leading to Mayock’s forceful statement.
Brown had 686 catches and 9,145 yards receiving the past six seasons in Pittsburgh, the best marks ever for a receiver in a six-year span. But he still wore out his welcome with the Steelers after leaving the team before a crucial Week 17 game last season and was able to be acquired by Oakland in March for the small price of third- and fifth-round draft picks.
But the drama that surrounded Brown in Pittsburgh didn’t stop upon his arrival with the Raiders even though he was given a hefty raise with a three-year contract worth $50.125 million.
Brown injured his feet while getting cryotherapy treatment in France, forcing him to start training camp on the non-football injury list. Brown was activated on July 28 and participated in parts of two practices before leaving the team to get treatment on his feet and deal with the grievance with the NFL.
Brown returned to the Raiders on Aug. 13 but still hasn’t participated in a full practice all of training camp.
The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment sets performance and test standards for equipment. Brown’s Schutt Air Advantage helmet is no longer allowed because the NFL follows the National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association (NAERA) rule that helmets 10 years or older cannot be recertified.
Schutt discontinued making the helmet three years ago because current technology had moved past it, according to the company.
Brown was one of 32 players using helmets last season that are now banned by the league and players’ association. Those players, including Tom Brady, were able to use the helmets last season under a grace period but were required to make the change in 2019.
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