Does Antonio Brown Have A Point?

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For those who have missed it, Antonio Brown is again doing Antonio Brown things.  He has apparently been absent from the Raiders training camp over a combination of his mysterious foot issue and a dispute over helmets.  He has reportedly threatened to retire if he is not allowed to continue using his current helmet.  The league has a list of approved helmets that have met minimum safety standards in independent testing, and his Schutt Air Advantage, which he has worn his entire career, isn’t on it.  The Raiders have reportedly sent him several approved models and he has rejected all of them, saying they protrude too far and interfere with his ability to track the ball.  He even tried an amateurish paint job on his old helmet to try to sneak it on to the practice field.  So far this just looks like more AB diva stuff.  As Chiefs fans it is always good to savor the rich and complex flavor of Raiders dysfunction.

But the Tyreek Hill situation has taught us that sometimes the main narrative isn’t entirely justified.  This isn’t to say that AB is being set up or falsely accused; he’s definitely not handling the situation like a professional.  However, an article posted on The Athletic today some additional details that make me think he may have a case, albeit a weak one.

Part of the issue is that the NFL requires helmets to be approved by the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), and Brown’s helmet, which is a twelve year old model, is no longer approved.  The thing is, it was dropped from the approved list because the NOCSAE stops testing helmets after they have been on the market for 10 years.  So Brown isn’t demanding to use a helmet that has been shown to be inferior; it just hasn’t been tested recently.  Last year the league published a list of banned helmet types, along with some that could be used for one year by players already wearing them but that would have to be replaced with approved models in 2019.  Here is an article about that which includes a table of the helmets tested:  Brown’s helmet isn’t on the list because it wasn’t tested.

A quick Google search reveals that the Schutt Air Advantage can still be purchased, at least in a youth version.  So the question is whether Brown is demanding to wear a twelve year old helmet or a new helmet that just happens to be a twelve year old model.  If he wants to wear a twelve year old piece of foam and plastic while large humans try to crush him into the ground then he’s just a dumbass.  If, however, he wants a new helmet of the same model he’s been wearing then the league doesn’t have data to say that it is unsafe.  The solution there would be to actually test the Air Advantage to see if it meets safety standards.  I’m sure the NOCSAE would make an exception to their 10 year policy if offered enough money.  If it failed, then Brown would be out of luck.  If it passed, the league could add it to the approved list.  Either way it would at least be a data driven decision.

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i believe Brown’s helmet was manufactured 10 years ago. he is now asking around to get a newly made helmet that was made within the last 10 years.

regardless, NFL has to draw the line somewhere. they cant test each and every model. seems like the 10 year cutoff is a good one.

and if there is a lawsuit if Brown gets injured, i think NFL will hide behind NOCSAE standards, which makes sense for them.


He may (or may not) have a point, but in my inexpert opinion, he doesn’t have a winnable case. For one thing, he was quite clear at first that it was a visibility issue. Now that he’s trying to term it a safety issue, it looks rather insincere, just another attempt to get his own way. For another, he isn’t taking a serious approach to making a case, so even if his agent’s been working behind the scenes he’s undercutting that effort with his antics. His frostbitten feet might even be use-able evidence of his slipshod approach to his own safety.

As for re-re-re…re-testing his helmet; unless there’s been a significant change in design and/or materials there’s little point to going through the same tests yet again, especially if the testing data’s consistent for however many times they tested it. Why test again to get the same result? Finally, if it actually is a matter of visibility, being the lone exception could well be an advantage over other WRs, and perhaps DBs, as well.

That’s the analytic part, but personally, I think he’s just being a spoiled-brat diva about it.


Here in Cali for BIZ….
local peeps are already – tired of AB drama queen shznit 🙂

Carrying my Chiefs duffle bag in the airport
Always – brings up NFL football conversation — CCHHHHIIIIEEEEFFFFSSSSSS!


NFL should just make him sign a waiver that says he can’t sue if he gets CTE. Then he can wrap his head in cardboard if he wants and the NFL doesn’t get sued when everyone figures out his eggs are already scrambled from the Burfict hit.


This is a very interesting case to me. This sounds like a slippery slope for the NFL. What if Brown conforms and gets a serious head or neck injury? He could probably sue them because they forced him to wear a helmet that he didn’t feel comfortble wearing..

He faces enough scrutiny now, but imagine what it would be like if he starts dropping balls or not being able to track the ball as well as he should be able. Everyone would be all over him. So if he feels like it impacts his game, I kind of don’t blame him.

But this is still one of the craziest things I have ever heard… along with the frozen feet.

Texas Chief
Texas Chief

I don’t think he’d have a leg to stand on in an injury case while wearing a new helmet. The Players Assoc. is the one that has been pushing so hard about CTE injuries in the NFL game. The Players Assoc. is the driving force behind the NFL doing everything they can do (helmet wise) to protect players’ brains, without ruining the game. A policy is in place now that requires the helmets be better than they used to be (better protection vs. concussions). That policy includes a 10 year rule in an attempt to force the NFL to keep striving to improve the protective gear that the players wear. I’m sure manufacturers that are submitting helmets to be tested are sending their newest and best protective models to the testing facility. It would be silly of them to send a product that was “less effective” if they have something better. So, these helmets should get better and better for player safety as manufacturers compete to make the best helmet on the market. All of that is a good thing. Brown can talk all the game he wants about sueing if he gets injured, but the facts are on the side of the league. They are working tword better player safety, and the helmets are becoming MORE safe, not less. Brown would have to be able to show that his OLD helmet would have protected him vs the injury that the approved helmet did not protect him against in order to have a real case. He won’t get support from the league, and he wont get support from the players assoc or the players union in reguards to wearing a non-approved helmet. That would be players admitting that their CURRENT lawsuits over head injuries are null and void because they don’t EXPECT the NFL to improve the protective equipment….they just want to wear whatever they prefer. Finally, uniform policy is set by the NFL. They tell you what shoes you are allowed to wear, how long the cleats can be, what length and color socks made by what company are… Read more »


Interesting take. The league has policies in place and have to draw the line somewhere. Sure they probably could test the helmet and certify it if Brown is willing to cover all the costs. There’s no need to though. They’ve got a long list of helmets to choose from anyway.

I’ve never found a helmet to be an issue for vision, which was what his initial issue with the helmets were reported to be. I found facemasks with mire bars could get in the way though.


Great writeup! Thanks for taking the time to type this up.


I think his craziness these last few years is evidence enough that his helmet won’t pass whatever testing they require.

In all seriousness, when my company with 1k+ employees mandates I use certain equipment (hell, he’s given options even) I don’t throw a fit and demand to be able to use something else just based on preference. If he gets an exception everyone will want one and the league will have a bigger mess to deal with than one diva WR. No one likes “that guy” that goes to HR over every little change. AB is that guy.

Just super glad he’s a Raider.


AB’s a drama queen and I’m so pleased that his dysfunction junction self is with the Raiders, he and Chucky deserve each other … as for his helmet: he needs to shut up and wear what he’s given (yanno, for the kind of money he makes he SHOULD have to conform to league rules

Dave B.
Dave B.

The model he wants to wear has been discontinued for a while now. Maybe they’ll re-release it and name it after him… that ought to make him feel special. They could call it the SchuttHead – Model AB84.


complete with homemade paint job