Antonio Brown is not ready to walk away from the NFL despite receiving unwelcome news on Monday. With an arbitrator officially denying his request to wear his old helmet, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Brown was faced with the choice of accepting the decision and rejoining the Oakland Raiders or walking away from the NFL for good. The latter choice would likely require him paying back some or all of the $30 million guaranteed.
Well, Brown chose to accept the decision and continue playing in the NFL. As he said in a statement on Instagram, he doesn’t agree with the decision of the arbitrator, but he is “working on getting back to full health and looking forward to rejoining my teammates on the field.” Brown also said that he appreciates all of the concern about his feet and that he is excited about the upcoming season.
There were rumors swirling over the weekend about his willingness to walk away from the game after Adam Schefter reported that Brown would never play football again if he could not wear his old helmet. However, they were ultimately proven false by his latest choice. Brown has stated in previous interviews that he wants to play until he passes Jerry Rice in the record books, so he will have to continue pursuing this goal in a new helmet.
While this helmet issue is one that caused a fair amount of teasing over the weekend, it’s one that is understandable to some NFL players. Retired wide receiver Greg Jennings even said as much when he appeared on Skip and Shannon: Undisputed.
Jennings dealt with a similar helmet concern when he was with the Green Bay Packers. His new headgear had an extra bar on the side that limited his peripheral vision while the actual facemask was longer. If Jennings turned his head too sharply, he would hit the mask on his shoulder pads. As he explained, Jennings wore the helmet once during a preseason game and then immediately got rid of it to go back to his old style. He understands the safety concerns, but he also sees Brown’s point of view.
Whether or not his viewpoint is understandable is irrelevant at this point in time. Brown will have to accept the decision by the arbitrator and wear the accepted style of helmet. The top priority now is simply getting back to full health and proving to the Raiders that he is still the playmaker that they traded for back in March.