NAPA – Antonio Brown has been dealing with two significant issues concurrently. The primary focus, he says, was on rehabbing frostbitten feet.
The other was a desire to wear a Schutt Air Advantage helmet no longer certified for use. That quest has been going on for months now, and the extent to which he went to wear it was chronicled by NFL Network's Mike Silver, and apparently involved some re-paintings.
That never was a long-term solution. His grievance filed to wear the now-prohibited helmet was, though an independent arbitrator ruled against him Monday afternoon.
He didn't retire over that setback – no shock, there – but he remains committed to finding a way to wear the helmet he has donned, in some model or another, since high school.
"We're working with the NFL regarding the helmet," Brown said Tuesday after he returned to Raiders training camp following extended time away. "We're going to make sure I put on the right, equipment-approved helmet so I can be ready to go."
Brown found a loophole of sorts. If he can find a Schutt Air Advantage made within the last 10 years and then gets it re-conditioned and formally certified, he can wear the helmet he wants. He crowdsourced his quest Tuesday morning, asking for his preferred helmet, recently made, on social media.
Brown's camp believes they have struck gold.
"We think we've found one," said Drew Rosenhaus, Brown's agent. "We're working on that right now. It's a process of finding the right helmet and getting it approved. This is a guy who has worn this helmet for nine years. He has taken a million hits and has been healthy and has been one of the most durable players at his position. You can understand why he would want to continue to wear that helmet. It's about safety. It's not negative towards the NFL or the changes they're making, but we want to find a good compromise for everybody involved, and I'm confident that we will. We're still working on that."
The Raiders have been sending Brown approved helmets to try, including while he was away from the team, but he'd prefer to wear the model that has served him well all these years. He cites visibility as the main reason why he doesn't want to switch.
"It's more about visibility in terms of protecting yourself," Rosenhaus said. "He's comfortable with the helmet. He can see people trying to hit him. ... Having the proper helmet to protect you physically and protect you visibly seeing other people is huge. That's the only thing he has played in. The Schutt Air Advantage is what he has worn his whole life. So we're trying to continue the success he has had while working within the NFL rules."
Brown's camp hopes to work out a longer-term solution, so finding and re-certifying a helmet won't have to happen each year. The first order of business is getting a helmet Brown is comfortable in to play the 2019 season.
"We've been working on it [for a long time], and we're very close to finding a solution," Brown said. "He's ready to have a fantastic season, and we'll do what it takes to work with the league and the Raiders and the NFLPA to get it resolved."