Antonio Brown likely won’t get anywhere with the NFL when it comes to playing in his old helmet.
The Raiders receiver reportedly said “he would hold the league liable” if he were injured while playing in a new helmet, adding that he wants to continue to play in his old one.
However, the helmet Brown is used to playing in has been deemed outdated by the league. Even though Brown reportedly said he won’t play unless he can use the old helmet, the NFL is standing firm in having all players use new helmets and said any player who doesn’t play or practice because of this issue could be breaching his contract.
“The player can’t practice or play in games with equipment that’s not approved,” NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in a statement. “If he doesn’t play or practice he is in breach of his contract and doesn’t get paid.”
McCarthy added that NFL policy is that helmets have to be certified by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment and that the organization doesn’t certify equipment that is more than 10 years old.
The player can’t practice or play in games with equipment that’s not approved. 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 old than 10 years.
— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) August 12, 2019
NOCSAE is an independent, nonprofit body that aims to enhance athlete safety via, among many things, performance standards for athletic equipment, including football helmets.
While the NFL didn’t mention Brown by name, Brown is the only one to have threatened to not play because of the helmet requirement. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady also has issues with the new helmet, but said on WEEI Radio that he doesn’t “have much of a choice” except to wear it.
“You get used to the same helmet for a long period of time. My last helmet, I wore it the last four Super Bowls, so it was a pretty great helmet for me. I hated to put it on the shelf,” he said. “It’s kind of what I’m dealing with.”
The Schutt Air Advantage helmet, which is what Brown wants to wear, was discontinued in 2011 and is 12 years old. In addition to NOCSAE certification, the NFL doesn’t approve of helmets older than 10 years, according to CBS Sports.