Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
A barefoot Antonio Brown recently had his feet frost bitten in a cryotherapy chamber in France, the supposed reason he’s been away from training camp with his new team, the Oakland Raiders, as he seeks another medical opinion.
But apparently Brown also has cold feet over the NFL’s new enhanced helmet protocol and has told the Oakland Raiders — who acquired him in March via trade from the Steelers and handed Brown more than $30 million guaranteed despite increasingly erratic behavior that led to his forced exit from Pittsburgh — he won’t play football again unless it’s in his 10-year-old, now-illegal helmet model.
Brown, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, spoke via conference call with the NFL this week for two hours over a grievance he filed arguing he should be allowed to wear his helmet despite the fact it isn’t certified by the NOCSAE (National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment) because the 11 new approved models restrict his vision.
Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers were among a handful of players who finished last season in one of the now-illegal models and are being forced to update their headwear. Suffice to say, neither of them have gone to Brown’s lengths to continue wearing their old helmet. Silver reports in that unbelievable thread that Brown has tried thrice this offseason to wear his old helmet in practice, which obviously would require someone to update the paint job from black and gold to silver and black.
Of course, these are sentences we never thought we’d type, but they now actually sum up well how bizarre and unpredictable the behavior of Brown sadly has become since abandoning the Steelers the week of last season’s must-win Week 17 game over an apparently irreparable relationship with QB Ben Roethlisberger. From public Twitter feuds with ex-teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster to threatening members of the media to an alleged domestic dispute with the mother of his child in January, Brown has seemingly been in a rapid tailspin, leading to very tepid trade interest outside of the Raiders.
A seven-time Pro Bowler and likely future Hall of Famer, Brown, 31, led the NFL with 15 receiving touchdowns but averaged his fewest yards per target (7.7) since 2012 and had his lowest catch rate (61.9 percent) since 2011, the second season for the former sixth-round pick and Pittsburgh’s all-time second-leading receiver.