Antonio Brown left Raiders camp due to frostbite rehab, not helmet issue

Antonio Brown left Raiders camp due to frostbite rehab, not helmet issue

NAPA – Antonio Brown spent a long stretch away from Raiders camp. The receiver and his agent insist it was to help his feet heal, not protest dissatisfaction over being told he can’t use his preferred helmet.

Brown left Napa shortly after he practiced for the first and only time July 30, and returned Tuesday after completing treatment on his own.

“I have been seeing a foot specialist,” Brown said. “Marty has been taking care of me and my feet and doing all the rehab that will allow me to come back out here and work.”

Brown isn’t all the way back yet, with no formal timetable to re-join Raiders practices.

“This is not a typical injury for a football team to deal with, so he was off with an expert to get laser [treatment] for frostbite and a burn like that,” Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus said. “It wasn’t his intent to leave the team for the period of time that he did. He has always had a good line of communication with the club.”

Head coach Jon Gruden emphasized that last point in his Tuesday meeting with the press.

“We’ve had a good understanding of the foot injury, where he has been and what he has been through,” Gruden said. “It’ll be great to have him back. We think he’s a great player, and we’re excited to get the men together and get rolling.”

Brown’s injury situation’s an odd one. A cryotherapy incident that gave him frostbite on his feet, though it remains uncertain exactly how it happened, and whether he was dealing with foot problems beforehand.

Brown didn’t expand upon it when asked about what happened. Neither did Rosenhaus, but he went into the reason why.

“I can’t, because it’s potentially a legal process. Possibly,” Rosenhaus said. “I can’t get into a lot of details. There will be more on that down the road. That’s why I can’t really get into it. That’s why we’ve kept it private. I can say that he’s doing a lot better. It has been a significant injury.”

News of Brown's feet was largely kept under wraps until he posted unsightly photos of them blistering and peeling on his Instagram account. Reports of frostbite surfaced a short time later, but the Raiders always insisted he was day-to-day.

It’s taking far longer for Brown to heal than he and the team originally thought. The Raiders knew about Brown’s foot problems weeks before training camp, and they thought he’d return to practice quickly after that. He was taken off the non-football injury list July 28 and practiced some during a July 30 session, and hasn’t been on the field since.

He went to see a foot specialist Aug. 3, and said he remained away from camp to take care of his feet. Dealing with helmet grievance, Rosenhaus said, was a completely separate and unrelated issue. He also said Brown’s return to training camp didn’t have to do with losing the helmet grievance Monday.

[RELATED: Raiders expect AB ready for season-opener vs. Broncos]

The Raiders have supported Brown publicly, saying they were in contact with Brown and aware he was staying away from camp to rehab his feet. The receiver said he appreciated that, especially as he became a nationwide focal point when reports over his helmet grievance surfaced and were linked to his absence from camp.

“It was good to hear,” Brown said. ”I was battling a foot injury, seeing my face all over the news and all the talk. These guys have been doing a good job supporting me. I was grateful for that, and I’m excited to come out here and be with the team.”

Why Antonio Brown might hate Patriots as he did Raiders after release


Why Antonio Brown might hate Patriots as he did Raiders after release

Antonio Brown famously celebrated when the Raiders released him two weeks ago, shouting he was “free” of a team he believed had wronged him by voiding $29.125 million in contract guarantees over a reported run-in with general manager Mike Mayock.

Brown was released again Friday, when the Patriots decided enough was enough, but the wide receiver was much kinder to Bill Belichick and Co. in the aftermath. He tweeted a thank-you message to Belichick, and his appreciative Instagram post to Tom Brady even drew a three-hearts response from the quarterback.

All love likely will be lost, however, if the Patriots follow the Raiders’ lead and try to void the money it once guaranteed Brown. And, as ESPN’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler pointed out, that’s quite possible.

When Brown joined the Patriots, he received a $1 million fully guaranteed salary and a $9 million signing bonus. By ESPN’s calculation, Brown was paid $158,333 in salary and roster bonuses by the Patriots, who now can argue that the personal-conduct nature of his release allows them to void the remaining $850,000 or so in guaranteed money. It’s the same argument the Raiders made when they wiped Brown’s guarantees off their books, which angered the receiver.

Now, here’s where the Patriots likely went wrong and the Raiders did not (yes, you read that correctly).

ESPN reported that Oakland, unlike New England, did not include signing-bonus money in Brown’s contract. And while the Patriots haven’t yet paid the receiver the first installment of his bonus — that’s due Monday, for $5 million — a league source told ESPN “the team's way out of it is through a representation warranty clause that says it's a breach of contract if Brown didn't disclose an existing situation that would have prevented his continued availability” — like his former trainer’s sexual-assault lawsuit against him, or the other allegations that since have been revealed.

If the Patriots refuse to pay Brown his signing-bonus money next week and the remaining $4 million on Jan. 15, the NFL Players Association surely will back the receiver. A source told ESPN that the union sees signing bonuses as "money earned” — no matter when payments are scheduled — and NFL contract language makes it even more complicated to void a guaranteed signing bonus.

So, if the Patriots come for that $9 million, they can expect Brown and the union to file a grievance — and to have a strong case. The NFLPA also doesn’t want to allow teams to escape lucrative signing bonuses promised to players, so it would fight hard for Brown.

[RELATED: AB's departure shows true nature of 'The Patriot Way']

The Raiders, meanwhile, are on much stronger footing, with Brown’s documented personal-conduct issues and no signing bonus in his now-voided contract. Their focus is on Sunday’s road game against the Minnesota Vikings, not a messy money fight, like what might now await the Patriots.

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NFL issues statement on ex-Raider Antonio Brown's status after release

NFL issues statement on ex-Raider Antonio Brown's status after release

We have yet another chapter in the seemingly never-ending Antonio Brown saga.

The NFL released a statement Friday night updating the league’s position on the former Raiders wide receiver’s recent conduct.

The most interesting note here is that due to Brown’s status as an unrestricted free agent, the league cannot place him on the commissioner’s exempt list, which would essentially place AB on paid leave from the NFL until the league is through with its investigating.

“As long as Mr. Brown is a free agent, placement on the commissioner’s exempt list is not appropriate," a league spokesperson wrote. "If he is signed by a club, such placement may become appropriate at any time depending on the status of the investigation.”

Brown was released by the New England Patriots on Friday, just 11 days after the team signed the embattled receiver following a very public war of words with the Raiders and the team’s front office. 

AB has also been accused by multiple women of sexual assault in recent weeks, including in a federal lawsuit filed by his former trainer, Britney Taylor.

A Sports Illustrated article published this week highlighted the other allegation -- from a former artist of Brown’s -- who he reportedly sent threatening messages to after the allegations surfaced.

[RELATED: Antonio Brown's swift release highlights true nature of 'Patriot Way']

For now, Brown remains in the free agency pool with hundreds of other players hoping to sign with an NFL team. 

As the negative headlines continue to stack up, it’s looking increasingly likely that AB has used up all of his goodwill in finding a new employer.