The Antonio Brown helmet situation goes from weird to weirder

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The NFL doesn’t want Raiders receiver Antonio Brown to wear the Schutt AiR Advantage, even though the Schutt AiR Advantage was never banned by the NFL, until Antonio Brown found a loophole in the league’s helmet protocol that would allow him to replace his more-than-10-years-old Schutt AiR Advantage with a version less than 10 yers old.

At best, confusion abounds regarding whether and to what extent the league informed Brown’s representatives that the Schutt AiR Advantage would be subject to testing if Brown intends to wear one that is less than 10 years old, and thus suitable for NOCSAE certification. At worst, someone isn’t being truthful about who said what to whom and when as the loophole was being exploited by Brown’s representatives.

On Monday, a reader named Tim Fernandez informed me that NOCSAE executive director Michael Oliver explained that the group would consider for certification any Schutt AiR Advantage that is less than 10 years old. After confirming with Oliver that he indeed had taken that position, I informed Brown’s camp of this apparent loophole.

I also asked the league whether a Schutt AiR Advantage that was less than 10 years old and that was certified by NOCSAE could be worn by Brown. In response, the league didn’t say “yes” and the league didn’t say “no.” Instead, the league sent the graphic showing the banned helmet models for 2019 and the list of preferred models, without any additional comment. The Schutt AiR Advantage appears nowhere on that graphic.

On Monday night, a source with knowledge of the situation told PFT that the Raiders had informed Brown that the league would allow him to wear a Schutt AiR Advantage that was certified by NOCSAE. There was no mention that the Schutt AiR Advantage would have to independently pass NFL/NFLPA helmet testing.

And so Brown embarked on a search for Schutt AiR Advantage helmets less than 10 years old. He found “a few” that had been made in 2010. Eventually, he found one that had been made in 2014, for a film. Through it all, and despite numerous PFT posts on the issue and a direct question that was never directly answered, the NFL said nothing to me about a requirement that the Schutt AiR Advantage must separately pass helmet testing before Brown can wear the helmet.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL found its own 2011 version of the Schutt AiR Advantage, the NFL tested it on Thursday and Friday, and it did not pass. The NFL believes that any/all Schutt AiR Advantage helmets made within the last 10 years would also not pass.

Brown’s camp insists that the Raiders said on Monday night that, if Brown finds a Schutt AiR Advantage made within the last 10 years and if NOCSAE recertifies it, Brown would be permitted to wear the helmet in practices and games. Brown’s camp also insists that the NFL said nothing about a general requirement that the Schutt AiR Advantage be tested before Brown can wear it. Brown’s camp now believes that the NFL rushed to test the Schutt AiR Advantage specifically to keep Brown from wearing it, without the grace period that others (like Patriots quarterback Tom Brady) were able to utilize before permanently ditching their helmets.

So a messy situation has gotten even messier, and the inescapable conclusion is that the NFL has done whatever it had to do to keep Brown from wearing the Schutt AiR Advantage, even though the Schutt AiR Advantage had never been banned by the NFL until Brown found one that was less than 10 years old and thus able to be worn in practices and games.

45 responses to “The Antonio Brown helmet situation goes from weird to weirder

  1. Number one, he got his one year grace period last year. Number two, how do you expect to recertify anything without testing it? It’s not like a butterball turkey that has a popup when it’s done. All plastics degrade with time.

  2. Lots of people wasting lots of time on this. The NFL has the longest, most boring offseason in all of pro sports, so reporters need to find inane stories to cover like this one.

  3. To those people who wagered that this whole Antonio Brown helmet thing would get even weirder, please come collect your prize.

    Psych! There is no prize. This is Antonio Brown we’re talking about, remember?

  4. Just have the primadonna sign a waiver which would make him completely at his own risk if he wants to wear his special helmet. The league would not be liable for any brain injury or other sickness or illness in the future. He will never sign this waiver and have to shut up and play with whatever helmet everyone else uses. Good grief.

  5. Good grief. Give the NFL a problem to solve and look competent doing it and they they will fumble the ball through the endzone every time…

  6. The Oakland/LA/Oakland/Vegas Raiders have a mega problem. They paid all that guaranteed money to an out of control headcase. Nice work Mayock, perhaps you can return to your TV gig.

  7. It’s not weird, it’s lawyerly. When did the NFL know that the helmet worn by Brown (and others) would no longer would pass their new and improved test protocol? If this was five years ago, did the NFL then put players at risk of injury and CTE?

  8. AB be a man, you threatened to quit if you didn’t get your helmet of choice. Well now you can’t so quit.

  9. There are reason things go obsolete, newer helmet technology meets the newer safety standards the NFL requires. This is partly driven by the big lawsuit the NFL got hit for former players with CTE, obviously not a good look so now looking into ways to make the game safer. Brown just needs to move on…and we all know that is never happening. Good luck Raiders fans, it’s only pre-season! Wait till the losing starts and Carr misses a couple of passes! This marriage is already heading for a messy ending.

  10. So, is the NFL testing every player’s helmet? Not likely. Their helmet testing is likely along the lines of their testing of underinflated footballs. AB could present a helmet made (in 2019) by the NFL’s preferred helmet maker, Riddell, and the NFL will fail that helmet too.

  11. Is he the only guy in the entire league that wears this helmet? Seems like they would have tested one before when they were making decisions on which models would be banned and which were approved. It wasn’t on the banned list so this just seems odd.

  12. The NOCSAE does not certify helmets. They only set the standards to which helmets are tested against to receive certification. The use of third party testing facilities is required to certify helmets to the NOCSAE standards. My guess is an entity the size of the NFL would have NOCSAE approved third party testing facilities they work with for this purpose.

    I say the above to say this: I assume the test the NFL had performed on the 2011 helmet failed to meet the standards set forth by the NOCSAE, so it would be impossible for the NFL approve that model for use.

    Of course we all know what they say about assuming…

  13. As much as AB is stoking the helmet issue, the NFL is guilty of doing the same, if not more so by “moving the goalpost” type thing by changing the rules as they go. Like many others, I’m tired of the non-sense, both by AB and the NFL. Can the NFL come to a sensible solution just once, or AB make a helmet change if all else fails?

  14. Strap it on and just play the game. Seriously. The NFL is a much better place when fans are not sucked into needless drama and are forced to listen to certain players who hold the game hostage. Fans want football, not a frappin’ soap opera.

  15. This is what happens when you meddle in affairs that don’t concern you. You get egg on your face.

  16. Industry has used Non-Destructive testing for years. Using ultra sound and other methods., you are able to test tinsel strength of bolts for airplanes to make sure they won’t fail when a plane is taking off or landing, a machine is operating at full speed etc.
    If safety of players is indeed a priority, the league has an obligation to test the helmets and make sure they are safe. You certainly wouldn’t want AB to suffer any additional brain damage.

  17. With regards to why the NFL operates as it does, always follow the money. Specifically CTE litigation. A few years back they stopped endorsing Riddell as the “official” helmet provider of the NFL. Then came the “one shell” rule. Now this mess. Fact or fiction, they will continue to keep up appearance$.

  18. Say what you want about the Roger Goodell, the NFL, their disciplinary process, etc. etc. etc. But consider this: the concussion issue is a big deal in the entire football world, and the NFL itself, including its players, have much to lose. The helmet is the cornerstone of the whole concussion issue, and the whole deal may sink or swim based on it’s performance. So, explain to me why the NFL zealously guarding the helmet issue is such a terrible thing?

  19. The NFL is loaded with continuous concussions. The helmet is a concussion magnet maybe it’s time for bubble wrap!!

  20. Izzy Borden says:
    August 18, 2019 at 6:38 am
    The NFL moves that John Gruden is building a beast and they’re afraid to have the Raiders back

    No one is afraid of the Raiders, except maybe their bail bondsman

  21. This sounds like Schutt AiR Advantage needs to throw a few dollars in Goodell’s bank account.

  22. Sounds like the NFL is taking retaliation against Antonio Brown. Classic case of discrimination in the workplace. In California you able to sue even with a CBA for discrimination in the workplace under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

  23. Hey Brady and Brees didn’t like changing their helmets but had to so AB shut up and play you big baby!

  24. radrntn says:
    August 18, 2019 at 12:39 pm
    Sounds like the NFL is taking retaliation against Antonio Brown. Classic case of discrimination in the workplace. In California you able to sue even with a CBA for discrimination in the workplace under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).


    With all the problems in California, you would think such laws were best put to use for those who are truly discriminated against. Not some entitled multimillionaire football player who has a issue with the word “no”.

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