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Antonio Brown’s helmet grievance with NFL denied, Raiders WR says he’ll return

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Antonio Brown’s helmet grievance with NFL denied, Raiders WR says he’ll return

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What I’m Hearing: An arbitrator denied Antonio Brown’s request to wear his own helmet. As our own Mike Jones reports, that ruling isn’t expected to stop him from playing in 2019.
USA TODAY

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown will need a new helmet, after all.

Brown had his grievance against the NFL rejected by an arbitrator, two people familiar with the decision told USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly comment on the case.

On his verified social media accounts, Brown said he disagreed with the decision, but confirmed that he would return to the Raiders after multiple reports emerged last week indicating he had stepped away from the team, in part, because he wanted to use his old helmet.

“While I disagree with the arbitrator’s decision, I’m working on getting back to full health and looking forward to rejoining my teammates on the field,” Brown wrote in a message posted to his verified social media accounts. “I’m excited about this season appreciate all the concerns about my feet 🦶!” #AlwaysAFight #Represent #itsbiggerthanme”

“While I disagree with the arbitrator’s decision, I’m working on getting back to full health and looking forward to rejoining my teammates on the field. I’m excited about this season appreciate all the concerns about my feet 🦶!” #AlwaysAFight#Represent#itsbiggerthanme

— AB (@AB84) August 12, 2019

The decision means Brown will need to switch to a more modern model approved by the league and the NFL Players Association.

Brown was seeking permission to wear the helmet he has worn his entire career, a model that has been banned for use for the 2019 season and beyond. The NFL has a long-standing policy that prohibits players from wearing helmets that aren’t certified by the National Operating Commission on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE).

Because the model Brown sought to wear, a Schutt AiR Advantage, is more than 10 years old, NOCSAE will not certify it.

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Earlier on Monday, NFL vice president of communications Brian McCarthy tweeted, “The player can’t practice or play in games with equipment that’s not approved. “If he doesn’t play or practice he is in breach of his contract and doesn’t get paid.”

NFL Network reported on Friday that Brown tried to sneak his old helmet onto the practice field multiple times, going as far as repainting the helmet to colors that were similar to but exactly matching those of the Raiders. The report also said that Raiders equipment managers tried to fit Brown with an approved model, but the receiver rejected their advice and eventually stormed off in protest.

The Raiders acquired Brown in a trade after he spent nine years in Pittsburgh in which he earned four all-pro selections and seven Pro Bowl nods.

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SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Lorenzo Reyes discusses how the NFL’s new helmet rules are benefitting the players’ safety.
Max Schreiber, USA TODAY

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