The Antonio Brown helmet drama continues to drag on.
Last week, the moody Oakland Raiders superstar wide receiver filed a grievance against the NFL in an effort to be able to wear his preferred helmet that is currently non-compliant due to changes in the league’s helmet policy.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown has filed a grievance against the NFL to be allowed to wear the helmet he prefers, not one of the helmets that league rules mandate, league sources told ESPN on Friday.
Brown is expected to have a hearing about the helmet as early as next week, and an arbitrator will decide whether he gets to wear the one he wants.
Long-standing NFL rules requiring players to wear certified helmets say he can’t. The helmet that Brown is comfortable in and has worn throughout his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers — believed to be the Schutt Air Advantage helmet, which the company has discontinued making — is no longer certified by the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE).
According to the Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan, Brown has warned the NFL that he would hold the league liable if he got any head-related injuries while wearing the new league-mandated helmets.
The NFL has already fired back at Brown and told them that they could void his contract if he continues to wear his old helmet in practice.
According to Sports Illustrated legal expert Michael McCann Brown doesn’t have much of a case against the NFL if he plans to hold them liable in case of injury under the new helmet rule.
If Brown could credibly show that denial of his preferred helmet exposes him to health risks, he could file a complaint with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration or California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Brown would argue that his workplace safety is jeopardized by playing with a helmet that interferes with his line of sight.
A complaint along these lines would likely go nowhere. The helmet rule is designed to promote, not degrade, safety. Unless Brown has access to scientific data and medical evidence that contradicts that of the NFL and NFLPA, it is unlikely that a government agency would conclude that the helmet rule makes playing football less safe. This is particularly true since Brown’s union participated in the testing of the helmets.
AB might as well take this L and start getting used to wearing a new helmet at this point.