As the NFL prepares for Antonio Brown Helmet Grievance 2.0, which may indeed be coming, the NFL will be cutting off potential arguments and/or improving its position in the court of public opinion.
Case in point: Ian Rapoport of the NFL announced on Monday morning that “two more helmets — same Schutt AiR Advantage that he prefers — are being tested for possible use.” Rapoport adds that they were made in different years than the helmet that the NFL originally tested last week.
That’s fine, but a source with knowledge of the situation previously told PFT that the NFL believes that no Schutt AiR Advantage will pass testing. They still feel compelled to do it, and to tell their in-house reporter that they’re doing it, because it makes the NFL seem more fair and reasonable at a time when it can be argued that the NFL is being unfair and unreasonable to Brown, whose preferred helmet model was rushed to testing and who will not receive a one-year grace period to wear that helmet, like others whose helmet models were deemed unsafe received in 2018.
After that reality was pointed out on Twitter in response to Rapoport’s initial tweet, he followed it up with this far less optimistic version of the facts: “In the minds of the testers, this is all moot. A Schutt AiR Advantage was tested and failed. The determination was that AB must wear an approved helmet.”
So why test the other models? It’s a confusing position for the league, but the willingness to consider other Schutt AiR Advantage helmets prevents Brown from arguing that the NFL failed to consider other Schutt AiR Advantage helmets. It also potentially gives the NFL the ability to argue that it hasn’t generally added the Schutt AiR Advantage to the list of prohibited helmets, since this opens the door to an argument that, like Tom Brady in 2018, Brown should get a one-year grace period during which he can try out new helmets while also wearing his preferred model.