Terrell Owens is sympathetic to Antonio Brown's helmet concerns

Brown reportedly may sit out if he isn't permitted to use his old helmet.

Tim Kelly
August 12, 2019 - 7:34 am

Friday afternoon, with the weekend beckoning, NFL Network's Michael Silver released a 20-tweet thread explaining how new Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown was beginning to become a distraction with his resistance to switching to an approved helmet model. ESPN's Adam Schefter went as far as saying that Brown was threatening to walk away from football if he was forced to change his helmet to a new model.

If there's any wide receiver in NFL history qualified to speak on Training Camp controversy, it's Hall of Famer Terrell Owens. And Owens, who is third in NFL history in receiving yards, says that he's sympathetic with Brown's concerns about switching from the helmet that he's worn for a decade.

"I can side with Antonio Brown, to an extent," Owens said on the Damon Bruce Show on 95.7 The Game. "Right as I was phasing out of the league, they started implementing the new helmets. Obviously, they are more dynamic...they have a different shape to them...obviously, they are engineered to prevent concussions. But, at the same time, if you're used to something for so long that's what you like to use, and there's never been an issue, then I can side with him in that regard."

Owens went on to suggest that while the NFL views this is a safety issue, Brown is deciding based upon what he's comfortable playing with. He suggested that if there haven't been any issues regarding head injuries to Brown while he's wearing that helmet, it doesn't make sense for the league to prevent him from continuing to wear it.

Owens may feel that way - and there may be something to his point from a common sense perspective - but the league doesn't share his view.

Terrell Owens (left) shared his thoughts on Antonio Brown (right).
Terrell Owens (left) shared his thoughts on Antonio Brown (right). Photo credit (Kirby Lee)

Brian McCarthy, who works in public relations for the league office, tweeted Monday morning that for a player to be able to even practice with a certain helmet, let alone play in a game with it, is has to have been cleared by NOSCAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment.) According to McCarthy, NOSCAE doesn't consider helmets that are more than a decade old, which Brown's helmet is. McCarthy's statement would seem to suggest that the NFL doesn't have any plans to make an exception, even if Brown, a four-time All-Pro, won't play with another helmet.

With over 11,000 receiving yards in nine seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Brown's career is on a Hall of Fame track. However, there's a reason that the Steelers were willing to part with the 31-year-old; among other things, he was suspended for Week 17 of the 2018 season after a verbal altercation between him and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger reportedly ended with Brown firing a football at Roethlisberger.

For his part, Owens, who had his fair share of disagreements with quarterbacks, says that Brown should embrace the role of "diva wide receiver" if it's placed on him.

"They called Jerry Rice a diva - and that's the greatest receiver of all-time. So any receiver that's depicted as a diva, they should take it as a form of flattery, because that's what makes us, us. That's what we do - we go out and we try to make plays. And if 'diva' is part of the characteristics of us showing that enthusiasm, that passion and that love for the game, then so be it."

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