NFL sees no basis for Antonio Brown’s effort to wear discontinued helmet

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As the dust settles on what became an unexpectedly crazy Friday afternoon, some clarity has emerged regarding Raiders receiver Antonio Brown‘s effort to continue to wear his helmet of choice.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Brown hopes to continue to wear the Schutt AiR Advantage helmet that he has worn throughout his NFL career. Because Brown’s helmet is more than 10 years old, the helmet cannot be certified for further use. Although the AiR Advantage was not on the list of 11 models that the league and NFL Players Association agreed to ban as of 2019, Schutt no longer makes that helmet. Thus, Brown can’t simply trade in his old helmet for a new one.

In 2014, Schutt described the AiR Advantage as a lightweight model that became “very popular with skill position players, who want to be as fast as they can.” Schutt explained that it stopped making the AiR Advantage in 2011 because “current helmet technology had moved past it.”

The AiR Advantage used traditional foam padding, which per Schutt “does not perform as well as the [Thermoplastic Urethane] Cushioning” used in its other helmets.

“TPU Cushioning absorbs significantly more impact across a wider variety of temperatures than any other helmet on the field,” Schutt explained in 2014. “Third party testing by an independent, certified helmet testing facility has proven that, three years in a row. The AiR Advantage had lived out its useful life as a product and was discontinued when something better was developed.”

With no new AiR Advantage helmets available and with Brown’s helmet past the window for annual certification, his only option is to find a new helmet.

Regardless of whether Brown understands these nuances, he disagrees with the league’s position strongly enough to pursue a grievance. The grievance hearing happened on Friday, with an independent arbitrator, union representatives, and a representative for Brown present. Brown participated by phone.

While the arbitrator could, in theory, decide to allow Brown to use the helmet, the NFL sees no basis for deviation from procedures to which both the league and the NFLPA have agreed.

This specific issue dates bate to April, per the source. Both the Raiders and Schutt have worked with Brown to find acceptable alternative helmets. To date, Brown has yet to find another helmet that he is willing to use.

Unless the arbitrator gives Brown a dispensation, he cannot practice or play with an unapproved helmet. If he refuses to practice or to play, he’ll be in breach of his contract, he’ll be suspectible to forfeiture of all or part of the $1 million signing bonus he received in March from the Raiders, and more than $30 million in guarantees money will likely be voided. Ultimately, if he chooses not to play, he will not receive game checks that, based on his 2019 salary of $14.625 million, amount to more than $860,000 per week.

If Brown continues to stay away from the team, if the Raiders send him a “five-day letter,” and if Brown doesn’t return, the Raiders can shut him down for the full season.

Given those basic facts, it’s hard to imagine Brown not showing up and playing even if he loses the grievance. He may not like any other helmets, but he has more than $30 million over the next two years riding on his willingness to show up for work, wearing an approved helmet. Even if his production dips because of a new helmet, the Raiders will still be on the hook for his fully-guaranteed payments through 2021.

Hopefully, someone will explain the situation to him in those terms. He doesn’t have to play well to get paid. He just has to play. And even if he suddenly becomes a mediocre player due to helmet discomfort, he still gets paid. If he doesn’t show up, he doesn’t get paid.

This seems at its core like another effort by a guy to whom no one ever says “no” to get his way. It worked for years in Pittsburgh, and it may work for years to come in Oakland. When it comes to the NFL and its hard-and-fast, collectively-bargained rules regarding helmets, Brown quite likely will hear a loud and clear “no,” for the first time in a long time.

84 responses to “NFL sees no basis for Antonio Brown’s effort to wear discontinued helmet

  1. Just find him one that was made in 2011.. Schutt has to have one covered in dust in a back room somewhere.. he can play 2 more seasons with it.. his G’d money will have been paid out and then he can walk.

  2. I liked this guy when he was a football player. I hate him now, sick of hearing of him whine about the dumbest crap. Just retire, nobody cares to hear about your wussy problems, princess Antonia.

  3. The helmet needs to be no more than 10 years old. They made them through 2011. Find one made in 2010 or 2011, boom problem solved.

  4. One set of rules. One agreement between NFL and NFLPA.

    32 teams x 90 players per team = 2,880 helmets in use. One diva with a helmet issue.

    32 teams x 90 players x 2 feet per player = 5,760 feet in the league. Two frost bitten feet.

    No contact with his team.

    Two weeks into training camp.

    Hasn’t played a down yet.

  5. The current helmets are good enough for every other wide receiver in the league. The NFL is better off without AB at this point.

  6. I played QB and CB with a ONE BAR helmet. We didn’t have water and ‘head on’s were WAY worse than that 2 on 1 nutcracker. I broke my nose and then had to play the rest of the season with a lineman’s helmet.

    GET A LIFE, ANTONIO. You have ZERO idea what football was like when kids played a kids game like men and people actually died.

    You young people. Go ask about the above. And our helmets? We got $5 if we broke another player’s helmet in practice. $5 was a buck short of 2 cases of beer. We broke helmets.

  7. Something is very wrong with this”AB” guy, the alter ego of a young man we used to know.

    This AB imposter is an unhappy fellow. Everyone loved the young man who was first introduced as Antonio Brown aka “Young Money”. He was that skinny, quick kid that was a 2010 6th rnd pick by Pittsburgh out of Central Michigan University.

    Some folks remember the young man with the goofy pointed haircut & million dollar smile!

    Where did you go Antonio? We don’t recognize this AB character. Nobody seems to like him very much either.

    Go get yourself checked out Bub, you’re only firing on seven cylinders. You’re causing stress and uproar everywhere you go.

    Nothing else.

  8. Remember when all the Raider’s fans talked about the genius Gruden fleecing the Steelers? Then the was over paid AB…… Steeler fans said this would happen. Enjoy a top 5 pick on next year’s draft HAHA

  9. I have absolutely zero doubt that Schutt will make him a BRAND NEW Schutt AIR Advantage helmet in return for one of his game cheques.

    Problem solved

  10. This is the guy who showed up to Steelers practice is lavish cars, and he was at that point considered just a fun living guy. I was down voted here being saying he was a selfish me first player, all those years back.

    He was going down the sudden downhill path of Dez Bryant the last few years, and the last few weeks he has sped thst timelinr up.

    But yes, what punishment did he get from the Steelers for the Facebook thing? For the Schuster thing? For all the stuff he pulled that we know about and what we don’t, thinking rules didblnt apply to him? It was because Tomlin and the organization buried thier head in the sand and let him do whatever he wanted without penalty.

  11. The obvious solution is for Brown to try on one of the new helmets and see if he likes it. If not, then he should fight the NFL over his choice of helmets. There really is no reason to outlaw a helmet that has been used for 10 years simply because the organization that certifies helmets arbitrarily decides that it will not certify ten year old helmets.

  12. The NFL will not suffer as a result of AB not playing. Tell this malcontent to shut up and go away for good. Enough already of putting up with this guy’s crap. With that said, the NFL HAS to tell this guy “no”, in regards to the old helmet, if it is truly serious about player safety.

  13. Have Raiders or NFL considered confiscating his helmet to see if he’s made any personal modifications to it besides silver spray paint?

  14. Once the helmet thing is solved, what is the next issue for him to threaten retirement over? That third and fifth rounder the Steelers got looks like icing on the cake.

  15. Everyobe is mad at AB for one thing or another. The man isnt going to song and dance for no one. Let hom handle his business the way he sees for and he’ll play football when its time to. We seem to like the yessah players the most. Not today. Go AB.

  16. Great advice from this writer. He doesn’t need to give max effort to collect his $30mill. Who cares that Raider fans will get screwed. Great life lesson here guys.


  17. And for those who claim the NFL doesn’t care about player safety or that players are somehow exploited. Explain this one away.

  18. Voiding the contract would be the best thing that could happen to the Raiders. This drama queen has not even been on the practice field with the Raiders and he’s getting attention for all the wrong reasons. If the Raiders want to win in the NFL vs the soap sweeps, they should get rid of this cancer.

  19. From all that has happened with Brown over the last 9 months, I don’t think the helmet he’s been using has protected his brain very well. I think the league and players union will be doing him a big favor making him play with a new helmet.

  20. This happened to Tom Brady last year. Tom said that he’s going to year his helmet and he did. The NFL has told Tom the same thing this year and Tom simply stated that he’s wearing his helmet. Period. Don’t make AB look like a fool, it’s a real issue.

  21. Why can’t they just fit his helmet with the new TPU cushioning?
    This story makes me think that his foot injury is much worse than is being reported.

  22. Sounds to me like his feet are much worse than we’re being told and he’s using the helmet thing as an excuse for what is surely going to be a down season for me.

  23. I agree with the NFL. Brown is a malcontent. If you gave him a million dollars in a suitcase, he’d complain about the suitcase.

  24. firstdownbrowns says:
    August 10, 2019 at 7:25 am
    makes u wonder if he still wants to play the game ? he has been playing ball for a lot of yrs going back to High School. maybe his heart isnt in it anymore.


    This was my first thought. When anything besides balling out becomes the main focus, then playing isn’t as important.

  25. This is all about AB being told NO. This is the first time, in a very long time, that he can’t get his way, so he’s throwing a temper tantrum. The same type of tantrum he threw when the Steelers finally had their fill of his BS. In forcing his way out there, he said the same thing, he would quit football if he didn’t get his way.

    Parts fatigue over time and with use, and are more susceptible to failure, hence the 10 year lifespan put in place by the certifying agency, the NFL and the NFLPA.

  26. alifornianewton says:
    August 10, 2019 at 4:00 am
    The obvious solution is for Brown to try on one of the new helmets and see if he likes it. If not, then he should fight the NFL over his choice of helmets. There really is no reason to outlaw a helmet that has been used for 10 years simply because the organization that certifies helmets arbitrarily decides that it will not certify ten year old helmets.
    You do realize the NFL paid a huge settlement (and probably rightfully so) to former players for head injury issues? They will not deviate now from the agreed upon safety standards (nor should they). Also, there is a reason that these safety devices expire…..anything with safety padding expires… car sears, etc… Again, somehow I think he will be able to get a < 10 year old version of this helmet, but I highly doubt the NFL caves on this one.

  27. If the man doesn’t want to abide by the same rules every other player in the league abides by, then let this primadonna millionaire walk. If the NFL were to give in to Brown on this matter, being that it’s in regards to safety for the players, I think it would start a snowball effect the league is not prepared for. Dude’s still rich (af), so let him walk and move on.

  28. $30 million in guarantees money will likely be voided.

    We’ll see how important his helmet really is, it’s just an attention thing he’s nothing more then a wimp starving for media attention and then week one, the new helmet will be just fine.
    The man has a mental illness problem it’s obvious.

  29. why even listen to idiots like mr big chest. this moron loves money and the only job in the world he can do is football. as if he ll quit….yeah ok dude

  30. It was popular to slam the Steelers for letting him go, but they look like geniuses now. That guy is a cancer on any team. Not worth the distractions and attention required. Too many of these kinds of divas in football these days, and the position of WR seems to be where most of them come from.

  31. Never make a receiver the center of your team.
    Receivers have personality issues that become toxic as they age.

  32. AllProArmchairQB says:
    August 10, 2019 at 8:30 am
    This happened to Tom Brady last year. Tom said that he’s going to year his helmet and he did. The NFL has told Tom the same thing this year and Tom simply stated that he’s wearing his helmet. Period. Don’t make AB look like a fool, it’s a real issue.

    Although both Brady and Rogers were told the same thing as AB, and both did choose to just stay with their helmet through the grace period. Both were forced to switch this year, just they skipped making a circus out of it. But if AB somehow gets his way then those guys can make a case for themselves to be given the same consideration.

  33. I guess the Steelers and Tomlin don’t look too bad now do they? They weren’t going to waste time dealing with a child. If the Raiders are out a $1 million and they save $30 million over the next 2 years, what’s the problem. Send the guy a 5 day letter and dare him back. Do they need this headache as they get ready for a new home in Vegas?

  34. If everyone follows league protocols for concussion prevention and still develops brain disease, the league would be liable. The NFL is all about covering their ass, so cannot make an exception for anyone. Antonio Brown could make a case for an existing condition.

  35. I’m Mr. Helmet Head
    I’m Mr. Cool.
    I’m Mr. Icicle
    I’m Mr. 10 below
    Friends call me AB
    Whatever I touch
    Turns to snow in my clutch!
    I’m too much

  36. Probably some OCD diva crap all in his head “he can’t see out of the new helmet ” child please.

  37. AllProArmchairQB-

    The NFL gave players a one year grace period before forcing them to wear one of the approved helmets. So Brown, Brady and Rodgers all had the right to wear any helmet they wanted just like everyone else in the NFL. This year the rule became official and players must wear any of the approved helmets. Everyone player in the league has complied with the rule except for Brown. He’s known for more then a year that he couldn’t wear his old helmet this season yet he waited until training camp started to fight the rule.

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