Jon Gruden, Raiders 'support' Antonio Brown in helmet grievance with NFL

Jon Gruden, Raiders 'support' Antonio Brown in helmet grievance with NFL

OAKLAND -- As the Raiders kicked off their 2019 preseason Saturday night against the Los Angeles Rams at the Coliseum, everyone had one question on their mind: What in the world is going on with Antonio Brown?

The star wide receiver has taken part in only a portion of one practice during training camp as he tries to heal from a reported case of "extreme frostbite" on his feet.

But there's more. On Friday, reports surfaced that Brown's absence has been more about the NFL's new helmet mandate that will force him to switch models of headgear this season, as his helmet is too old. Brown has worn the same helmet for his entire career, and reportedly has informed the Raiders that he will not play football again if he does not win his grievance with the NFL to wear his desired helmet. 

So, of course, after the Raiders beat the Rams 14-3, head coach Jon Gruden was asked if he thought he'd be seeing his prized offseason acquisition soon.

"I hope so," Gruden said. "There's been a lot of reports out there. I can't say I agree with all of them, certainly. But I support this guy. I think that's what needs to be said. I don't know what anybody's writing or what anybody thinks, but this foot injury wasn't his fault. It was a total accident. It really wasn't his fault, and it's a serious injury. I know some people are smarting at it, but it's really not a laughing matter. The guy is hurt. He's innocent. He didn't do anything wrong. 

"And the helmet thing is a personal matter to him," Gruden said. "He has a strong feeling about what's he worn on his head, and we're supporting him. We understand the league's position as well, so we're in a tough spot. We hope Antonio is back here soon because he's exciting to be around. I've got some plays for him and I hope I can start calling them."

But does Gruden actually think the four-time All-Pro selection will actually walk away from the game if he can't wear the helmet he wants?

"I'm not going to speculate," Gruden said. "I've got a lot of confidence. He's one of the premier competitors out I've ever been around and I got a feeling he would play with no helmet. That's how much he loves to play. But I'm not going to put words in anyone's mouth. We're going to support him and whatever his decision is, we'll stand by it, but we're confident he's going to be a huge factor for the Raiders for years to come."

Back to the feet, Gruden reiterated that the injury was not Brown's fault. 

"I'm not going to get into the extent of it, but I will say that it was a total accident. It's an injury that he's looking to get right from. And hopefully, with all the people that have seen it, they've gotten it cured and he's ready to roll."

And so we wait.

[RELATED: Gruden, Raiders expected some AB drama -- but not like this]

Most of the Raiders starters didn't see time Saturday, but it was clear during joint practices with the Rams that Brown's absence severely limits the offense's potential. The Silver and Black need Brown to return post-haste.

For now, Gruden and the Raiders await the NFL's decision, one that could greatly impact the future of the organization if Brown sticks to the reported ultimatum he delivered. 

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.

NFL rumors: Antonio Brown's text messages enraged Patriots owner Robert Kraft


NFL rumors: Antonio Brown's text messages enraged Patriots owner Robert Kraft

In the span of about two weeks, Antonio Brown has worn out his welcome with two different teams.

The latest divorce came on Friday when the New England Patriots decided enough is enough and released the embattled wide receiver.

The Athletic reported Friday, citing sources, that Brown's harrassing text messages to an accuser enraged Patriots owner Robert Kraft so much that he stopped a business trip to call coach Bill Belichick.

Together, Kraft and Belichick decided to cut Brown, The Athletic reported.

In the wake of a story published by Sports Illustrated earlier in the week, Brown sent a series of "intimidating" group text messages to the artist, who came forward for the story. In 2017, she had been hired by Brown to paint a mural of him for his house.

Brown is facing accusations of sexual assault and misconduct from the artist and his former trainer. None of the allegations were known when the Patriots signed Brown.

Earlier in the week, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported, citing a source, that if Kraft had known about the accusations against Brown, he never would have approved the signing of the wide receiver.

For Kraft, Brown's latest actions were the final straw.

As for the Raiders, owner Mark Davis, coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock have to be glad Brown isn't their problem anymore.

[RELATED: NFL issues statement on AB's status]

They rid themselves of the Brown saga two weeks ago, and it's clear that they made the right decision.

Brown is talented, but all of his actions over the last few months, not just the recent text messages, should enrage everybody.