Antonio Brown made another stand in his everlasting helmet battle.
The Oakland Raiders receiver held out of practice Sunday over a dispute with the NFL, which is requiring him to switch from his old Schutt AiR Advantage helmet to a newer, safer model — just like it did with the rest of the league — which prompted a clear response from the Raiders front office.
Longtime Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, who retired after last season, understands where Brown is coming from. He wore the same helmet for a long time throughout both his collegiate career and initially with the Seahawks.
But before the 2017 season, Baldwin was introduced to VICIS. The company had designed a different helmet, one that — while heavier and bigger — was significantly safer than the old models. According to USA Today, the VICIS helmet reduced impact forces on the head by 30 to 40 percent compared to the AiR Advantage model.
That’s when Baldwin switched, and partly why he later invested in the company.
“It’s hard to reason with anybody about why they wouldn’t (switch to a newer helmet),” Baldwin said, via USA Today. “Their argument is it comes back to aesthetics. This helmet is sleeker, it looks better, whatever the case may be.
“That’s just — to me personally, as a husband and as a father — it’s just not a sound argument.”
For Baldwin — who played for the Seahawks from 2011-2018 — it’s purely a safety issue. That’s why the NFL implemented the league-wide switch, something the NFL Players Association agreed with, too. Brown’s old helmet simply isn’t up to standards.
The NFL has faced numerous safety concerns in recent years, especially when it comes to head trauma. While a different helmet model won’t eliminate that completely, it’s a step in the right direction — which is why Baldwin doesn’t get why someone wouldn’t want to wear it.
“I understand there are people that are locked into their ways and their beliefs,” Baldwin said, via USA Today. “However, when there’s a product out there that’s safer and it’s backed by all this data and information proving that it’s safer, then I don’t understand why there’s not a push to put more people in that equipment.”
Who knows how long Brown will continue his saga to wear the old helmet. Based on his actions so far, he’s clearly not letting the issue go — even with his new team growing impatient with him.
Though he knows change is hard, Baldwin said this is one change he has to support.
“It’s very hard for someone to be forced to change something that they’ve been doing their entire lives, and their entire career,” Baldwin said, vis USA Today. “But on the other end of it, it’s hard for me not to support the change because there’s better products out there. There’s safer products out there.
“Especially when it comes to a violent sport like football, there’s no reason not to have safer, better equipment.”
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