Last Friday, when the Antonio Brown helmet controversy broke loose on the NFL news cycle, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Brown threatened that he would not play football again if he couldn’t wear his helmet of choice. On Thursday night, Brown disputed that report.
“I don’t know where they got that, who made that up, either,” Brown told reporters, via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Why would I retire, man? I’ve got a beautiful career. I’m healthy. I love to play the game. . . . I’m grateful to play the game.”
It’s easy for Brown to say that now, given that he has found “a few” Schutt AiR Advantage helmets that are less than 10 years old, one of which presumably can be reconditioned and recertified for use. A week ago, before Brown realized that a loophole existed and as he faced a hearing on his grievance against the league’s helmet rules, huffing and puffing was a viable approach to dealing with the situation. From threatening to retire to advancing a goofy argument that the NFL will be liable if Brown is injured in a new helmet, Brown’s representatives were throwing the kitchen sink at the problem.
Besides, it was Brown himself who said on social media last week, “[I]f I leave will the fans still gone love me man?”
Things can get nasty in #scooptown, where reporters often take silent delight in a competitor’s report being refuted. But there’s no way Schefter made up the report that Brown was threatening to take his 10-year-old Schitt Air Advantage and go home. Schefter undoubtedly got the information from someone close to Brown, and the leak surely was calculated to make sure the NFL and the arbitrator understood the potential stakes of the decision as to whether he’d be allowed to keep wearing his helmet.