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Why Antonio Brown Has Missed Most Of Training Camp With The Oakland Raiders


All right. The Oakland Raiders are the featured team this season on HBO's NFL show "Hard Knocks." And on last night's episode, coach Jon Gruden kept repeating the same thing.


JON GRUDEN: Has anybody seen my friend Antonio Brown?

Let's hope we get Antonio Brown. I mean, I'm concerned we're missing time here.

And we hope Antonio is back here soon because he's exciting to be around. I'm excited. I got some plays for him. I hope we can start calling them.

CHANG: Antonio Brown, the team's new star wide receiver, has missed a bunch of Raiders training camp. In fact, he's missed most of it. And to find out why, let's bring in Lindsay Jones, who covers the NFL for The Athletic.

Hey, Lindsay. Welcome.

LINDSAY JONES: Hello. Thanks for having me.

CHANG: All right, can you just explain what all this drama is about behind Antonio Brown missing training camp?

JONES: Well, there's been a lot of drama, and there's multiple things at play here. But the first part is that before reporting to training camp, he was on vacation in France. And while he was there, he was working out. He had his trainer.

And one of the things he went to do to recover was he went to a cryotherapy chamber. That's where you get really, really cold, and it's supposed to help regenerate your muscles and make you feel better. And he ended up getting frostbite all over the bottom of his feet. So that was one thing that was at play is what's going on with his feet.

CHANG: There's more.

JONES: Yes, and it's bizarre.


JONES: So the second thing that has happened is that he has decided that he wants to wear his old football helmet. And long story short is that a couple of years ago, the NFL banned a bunch of helmets, basically ones that were not certified anymore. They told all of the players - you know, all 2,000 players or more than that in the league that have played over these last couple years - and they said by the 2019 season, you have to be in one of these helmets that is approved.


JONES: Last year, there were 32 players left in the league who were playing in one of the helmets that would no longer be approved. All of those players have moved on to a new helmet that is now legal and approved and certified and all this stuff, except for Antonio Brown.

CHANG: On the other side of this drama is Jon Gruden, who we just heard talking about Antonio Brown. Why is he responding like, oh, my God, this is the biggest deal ever that he has missed this much time at training camp? Like, tell us what is at stake.

JONES: So Antonio Brown is new to the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders traded for him after kind of a rocky end to Antonio Brown's time in Pittsburgh, where they didn't trade him because he's not a good football player. In fact, it's the exact opposite. I mean, he is one of the very best, but he's kind of come with a lot of baggage. He's kind of gotten a reputation of being difficult to deal with in the locker room. He's had disagreements with teammates, with coaches.

And the fact is he's only gone through half of the practice. So it's a really big deal that he hasn't participated because...

CHANG: Yeah.

JONES: He is going to be the focal point of that offense. And so I suppose the good news, and if you watched "Hard Knocks," they snuck it in at the very end of the episode - Antonio Brown came back to training camp yesterday.

CHANG: OK, so does that mean this whole show is over and everything's going to be just hunky-dory from now on?

JONES: Well, I don't think this is over because with Antonio Brown, given what we've learned about him and his career, is that it's never really over. There is always going to be some new level of drama that comes along with Antonio Brown.

CHANG: All right, sounds like we all got to stay tuned. That was Lindsay Jones. She covers the NFL for The Athletic. And she joined us at the airport.

Thanks so much, Lindsay.

JONES: Thank you for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF ELKIN & NELSON SONG, "JIBARO PARTE II") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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