Antonio Brown vs. NFL: Who Wins the Helmet Dispute?

Over this past weekend, newly-acquired Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown made a claim that if he wasn’t able to wear the helmet of his choice, he would retire from the NFL. The NFL established a new rule which would prevent players from being able to wear certain helmets which are too old and do not have the technology needed to protect players from current head injuries. Brown, however, is convinced that his 10-year old helmet is worth wearing and has filed a grievance against the NFL to wear the helmet. Of the 2,016 NFL players that have to follow this new rule of not wearing old helmets, Brown would be the one player that could get the benefit of the rule, it the NFL allows him to. Here I present both sides of the argument, and which argument is more logical:

The Case for AB to Keep His Helmet

Antonio Brown has been wearing this exact helmet that he is pleading for his entire career with no issues whatsoever, so now that a new rule has come, saying that ‘any helmet 10 years or older cannot be used anymore,’ he could say that he should keep it because he has had no issues. While Antonio Brown has only had one serious issue of a head injury, which was due to a helmet-to-helmet hit from Adam Jones in the 2015 AFC Wild Card Game against the Bengals, it is interesting to wonder how this situation would play out if he had gotten injured more. That being said, the only thing Brown has going for him is that he has used the helmet and been healthy, meaning that he could win the grievance by showing the evidence of his lack of injuries against that of the NFL’s saying that his helmet is unsafe. Also, he has the support of his new team, the Oakland Raiders, who will do everything they can to keep Brown on their team and in the NFL, though I don’t know how much value they can add to Brown.

The Case for the NFL to Prevent AB from Keeping His Helmet

Well, this is obvious. The helmet is shown to be unsafe and is over 10 years old. The new helmets have the technology needed to withstand the hits that players now take compared to how they were 10 years ago. The NFL tackling rule changes are the reason why this is an argument. As a result of the rule change, the helmet technologies have to be updated, and we are now at a point where Antonio Brown’s helmet is unsafe. Also, the NFL has a case in which an NFL player has changed helmets after being told of the rule. San Francisco 49ers Offensive Tackle Joe Staley had been using the same helmet since college and used it his entire NFL career until this offseason when the NFL told him to change helmets. The NFL would be extremely unfair to the rest of the players in the league if they said that only AB could wear the helmet of his choice, as it would cause discrepancies in rules, as well as players finding loopholes to get non-approved helmets.

What If AB Gets Injured with the New Helmet?

This is the biggest nightmare of the NFL in this situation right now. If there is a way that Brown wears a new helmet and doesn’t retire, which more recent reports suggest he will do that, but he suffers a head injury, then a whole new debacle starts for the NFL. Because the NFL then would have failed to back up their ’10 year-old helmet rule’, and would have to retest every helmet older than 10 years and see which are still functional or can be updated to be allowed in the NFL.

Should Antonio Brown Really Retire?

Two letters. N-O. No chance whatsoever should Brown seriously retire over a helmet. A guy who is at the prime of his career, has not had major injury problems, is in a new scene where he is happy, he should not even consider retiring. Not to mention, he has yet to win a Super Bowl. All that being said, I do not think Oakland is the place where he will win a Super Bowl, but he has so much more that he can accomplish and do with his career, so the thought of him retiring at the age of 31 is ridiculous.

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