Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown has filed a helmet grievance against NFL, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Brown wants to be allowed to wear the helmet he prefers instead of a league-mandated one.
New NFL rules being enforced this season require players to wear helmets that are certified by the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). Players who fail to wear approved helmets will be disciplined, per the league. The helmet that Brown wore during his time with the Steelers is no longer certified by NOCSAE and therefore fails to meet the standards of the NFL's policy.
The NFL and NFLPA have a joint list of approved equipment, which includes helmets, for this season. This offseason they also eliminated the preexisting grace period for other models that are no longer allowed. Both parties want players to wear the safest helmets available, according to their testing. The league has tested helmets since 2018 but last year was the first time certain models have been banned. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, like Brown, also wore helmets last season that are no longer approved.
Brown reportedly requested his old helmet when he showed up for his first OTA with the team and did so again a few weeks later, according to NFL.com's Michael Silver. He even repainted his old helmet to mimick the Raiders' silver and black design in an attempt to get it past the team's equipment manager. Before leaving to seek a second opinion on his foot injury, Brown tried to sneak his old helmet onto the practice field for a third time before being told by team officials to remove it.
Brown is expected to have a hearing as early as next week where an arbitrator will rule on which helmets Brown can wear. The Raiders are "aware and supportive of Antonio Brown, but [have] no further comment," per ESPN.
The 31-year-old receiver is also still dealing with a foot injury that is reportedly the result of "extreme frostbite" caused by not wearing appropriate footwear in a cryotherapy machine. Brown reportedly saw a foot specialist last week and has missed most of Oakland's training camp and practice time this summer. The helmet situation has also reportedly been an issue since the start of training camp.
Brown was traded to Oakland from Pittsburgh in March. The Central Michigan product has tallied 100-plus catches in six straight seasons, and he led the NFL with 15 touchdown catches in 2018.