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.
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.”