The Raiders are supporting Antonio Brown in what head coach Jon Gruden described as the “personal matter” of his helmet grievance against the NFL.
Brown has reportedly threatened to quit the NFL after being told he cannot wear the helmet he has used throughout his career due to changes in regulations.
According to reports, the former Steelers star, who the Raiders acquired in a blockbuster trade in March, has filed a grievance against the league and a decision is expected in the coming week.
He has also been limited to two practices during training camp because of frostbite on his feet, which the 31-year-old is said to have suffered after entering a cryotherapy chamber with incorrect footwear.
Gruden, though, has given his full backing to Brown. Asked in a press conference about Brown rejoining the Raiders in the next week, he replied: “Man, I hope so.
“There’s been a lot of reports out there, I can’t say I agree with all of them, certainly. But I support this guy. I think that’s what needs to be said.
“I don’t know what anybody’s writing or what anybody thinks but this foot injury wasn’t his fault. This was a total accident. It really wasn’t his fault, and it’s a serious injury.
“I know some people are [smirking] at it but it’s really not a laughing matter. The guy was hurt. He’s innocent, he didn’t do anything wrong.
“And 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.”
Pressed on what will happen if Brown loses the grievance, Gruden said: “I’m not going to speculate. I have a lot of confidence that he’s one of the premier competitors I’ve ever been around.
“I got a feeling he would play with no helmet; that’s how much he loves to play. But I’m not going to put words in anybody’s mouth. We’re going to support him, and whatever his decision is, we’ll stand by him.
“But we’re confident he’s going to be a huge factor for the Raiders for years to come.”