ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown has reportedly filed a grievance with the NFL over a league rule that prevents him from wearing his 10-year-old helmet.
ESPN reported that Brown had a two-hour conference call Friday with an independent arbitrator to state his case for why he should be able to use a helmet that is no longer certified by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. League and union representatives were also on the call and ESPN reported a ruling could come as early as next week.
Brown has not participated in a full practice for the Raiders after starting training camp on the non-football injury list with injuries to his feet that reportedly came from frostbite suffered while getting cryotherapy treatment in France. Brown was cleared to practice on July 28 and participated in part of two sessions but hasn’t been around the team the past few days.
Brown’s Schutt Air Advantage helmet is not allowed to be worn because of a league policy that players must wear helmets that are NOCSAE certified, a person in the league said on condition of anonymity because the commissioner’s office was not talking publicly about the issue. NOCSAE won’t recertify his helmet because it is more than 10 years old.
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 one of 11 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.
Brown has been the game’s most prolific receiver the past six years but was able to be acquired from Pittsburgh for just a third- and fifth-round pick in March because of problems off the field.
Brown had a messy divorce from the Steelers after averaging more than 100 catches and 1,500 yards receiving per season over the last six years. He got in trouble for livestreaming from the locker room after a playoff win over Kansas City in January 2017 and was pulled over for doing 100 mph in the northern Pittsburgh suburbs last fall.
Brown was then benched by coach Mike Tomlin during the regular-season finale against Cincinnati last year after the wide receiver went radio silent in the final 48 hours before the game. Brown arrived in a fur coat, hung out for a half and then disappeared from view until well after his teammates had cleaned out their lockers.
He then spent the offseason asking for a trade and antagonizing the Steelers on social media before finally being dealt to Oakland, where he got a new three-year contract worth $50.125 million instead of the $38.925 million he was owed by Pittsburgh.
The honeymoon with his new team has been short with Brown barely getting on the practice field this summer because of the odd injury and now this dispute over his helmet.
Brown most recently threatened the NFL with retirement if he was unable to wear his old helmet again.