Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown is threatening to never play football again because the NFL won’t allow him to wear the same model helmet he’s worn his entire career. It’s a complicated situation, to say the least.
Brown, who was traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Raiders this offseason, has always worn the Schutt AiR Advantage helmet. Schutt doesn’t make it anymore, and his helmet is more than 10 years old, which means the helmet cannot be used moving forward, per NFL rules.
Brown has no interest in wearing a different helmet.
According to Pro Football Talk, the NFL does not appear to be backing down regarding the situation. Brown filed a grievance against the league. If he loses, he can’t wear the 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.
Brown, if he really decided not to play, would forfeit over $30 million of his contract. It’s a steep price to pay for not playing with a different helmet.
It remains to be seen how this situation will end. Brown could certainly hang it up – he has enough money. But he’d be leaving a ton on the table in doing so.