The only way Antonio Brown is going to be allowed to wear his old helmet this year is if he can somehow convince the NFL that his uncertified headwear is safe for game use, and apparently, his legal team has come up with an interesting strategy to make that happen. 

According to The Athletic, Brown’s camp went into the receiver’s grievance hearing on Friday and basically threatened the NFL. Brown’s legal team told the league that if Brown “suffered a head injury in a helmet that he is compelled to wear, he would hold the league liable.”

What Brown’s legal team is saying is that if Brown is forced to wear a new helmet and he gets injured while wearing that new helmet, then Brown is going to come after the NFL for damages. The problem for Brown is that the NFL probably isn’t going to buy that argument or feel threatened by it. The only reason the new helmets exist is because they’re safer, and the reason players are required to wear them is so that the NFL won’t be held liable if something were to happen to a player, because it will look like the league was doing everything possible to help. 

Although Brown’s first threat might not be enough to help him win his case, his legal team did present another reason for why the Raiders receiver should be allowed to keep his old helmet, and this reason is much more compelling. According to The Athletic, Brown’s camp is arguing that the league can’t prove that Brown’s helmet isn’t safe and that banning his helmet “had no grounds in science or facts.”

Brown’s situation is unique compared to other players who wore an illegal helmet last year and that’s because his helmet never failed any sort of safety test. Although 11 different helmets have been banned by the league for failing the safety test — including the model that Tom Brady used to wear — Brown’s helmet is only banned because it hasn’t been certified by the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) and the NFL doesn’t allow players to use any uncertified helmets. 

As CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora pointed out on Friday, NOCSAE won’t certify any helmet that’s over 10 years old, which is why Brown’s 12-year-old Schutt Air Advantage helmet is now illegal. The helmet is so old that Schutt actually discontinued making the model back in 2011. Brown started wearing the helmet during his rookie year in 2010. 

So what’s going to happen?

The NFL could agree with Brown’s argument and let him wear his old helmet, or the league could rule against him, which could potentially lead to total chaos, and that’s because Brown has threatened to retire if he isn’t allowed to wear his old helmet. Either way, we should know what’s going to happen soon. According to Pro Football Talk, the ruling on Brown’s helmet is expected to come this week, which means it presumably could come as early as Monday. 

News