Wide receiver Antonio Brown, who has not been with the Oakland Raiders since being limited in a practice and leaving early on July 30, has returned to the team’s facility in Napa, California, on Tuesday.
And Brown is looking for help from fans — with a little incentive, of course — to obtain a “new” old helmet.
He posted on social media Monday that he was looking forward to rejoining his teammates on the field after he lost a grievance against the NFL over wearing his old helmet.
On Friday, Brown had a two-hour conference call with an independent arbitrator to argue why he should be allowed to wear his older helmet — a 10-year-old Schutt Air Advantage model — which he is thought to have been using his entire career. Brown’s specific helmet is over 10 years old and the model is no longer made by the company, so it is not currently certified by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment.
The wide receiver took to social media Tuesday to find a version of his preferred-style helmet that is less than 10 years old. It is not clear whether, if Brown could even find one and get it certified by NOCSAE, the NFL would sign off on it, because the technology is outdated.
Schutt discontinued the Air Advantage in 2009, according to Glenn Beckmann, Schutt’s director of marketing communications. But the company continued to manufacture them for a short period afterwards to ensure a supply of parts for reconditioning and warranty claims.
Beckmann said he “can’t imagine” any Air Advantage models were manufactured after 2011, and the company does not have any in stock. Helmets are registered with an eight-character number stamped inside the product, similar to a VIN number for automobiles, that confirm its manufacture date.
“There was nothing wrong with the Air Advantage,” Beckmann said. “It had just outlived its life.”
Brown has tried out the new certified helmet and believes it protrudes and interferes with his vision as he tries to catch the football. He also argued that his helmet made him feel safe.
He had reportedly threatened to retire if he was not allowed to wear his helmet. He was acquired from the Pittsburgh Steelers in March and promptly given a three-year, $50.125 million contract.
Brown has also been dealing with frostbitten feet suffered in a cryotherapy mishap in France last month.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert and Paul Gutierrez contributed to this report.
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