NFL to AB: Don the right helmet or don’t play


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Antonio Brown. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

Antonio Brown has a decision to make.

Last week, it was reported that Brown was threatening to retire unless he was allowed to wear his 10-year-old helmet, one that is no longer certified by the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment, and thus not permitted to be worn in the NFL.

On Monday, Adam Schefter tweeted that an arbitrator ruled against Brown’s grievance to wear his old helmet.

Schefter had previously reported that Brown had a two-hour conference call with league officials on Friday to argue why he should be allowed to wear the helmet he prefers, and not one the league requires.

NFL PR official Brian McCarthy confirmed the NFL's stance in a tweet on Monday.

"The player can't practice or play in games with equipment that's not approved," McCarthy said. "If he doesn't play or practice he is in breach of his contract and doesn't get paid. NFL policy is that helmets have to be certified by NOSCAE. They don't certify equipment that's (older) than 10 years."

Brown has yet to be a full participant in Raiders training camp practices while he deals with a bad case of frostbite on his feet, although he was cleared to practice on July 28. He was not around the team at all last week because of the helmet matter.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden spoke about Brown following Saturday's preseason game.

“I’ve got a feeling he would play with no helmet, that’s how much he loves to play. But I’m not gonna put words in anybody’s mouth," Gruden said. "The helmet thing is a personal matter to him. He has a strong feeling about what he’s worn on his head and we’re supporting him. We understand the league’s position as well, so we’re in a tough spot. And we hope Antonio is back here soon, because he’s exciting to be around. I’m excited. I got some plays for him, I hope we can start calling them.”

The Raiders previously sent Brown multiple certified helmets to try, but he didn't like any of them, claiming they obstructed his vision. The NFL's decision means that Brown must wear one of those helmets, or sit out like he threatened.

After the arbitrator's ruling was released, Brown posted the following message on Instagram:

"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!"

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