Antonio Brown’s helmet flap with the NFL has come to an end, with Brown losing a second grievance hearing with the NFL on Sunday and him reporting to Oakland Raiders practice this week wearing a new, fully approved model.
But even though he lost his battle with the league to keep wearing his Schutt Air Advantage, Brown may end up winning out in the end.
Agent Drew Rosenhaus said on Sirius XM Radio that Brown has arranged for some time of sponsorship deal with a company to create him his own, new helmet.
“As a result of all the publicity accrued from our efforts to get him to wear that helmet, he has multiple offers on the table right now from various companies to custom-make a helmet for him and pay him quite a bit of money,” Rosenhaus said. “We have found, without getting into specifics, some very suitable alternatives. We’re very excited. Antonio will be wearing a helmet. He won’t be missing any time, and he’ll be getting paid a lot of money to do so. It’s sort of a happy ending, even though he won’t be able to wear the old helmet.”
So Brown is going to get a brand-new, custom-fitted helmet. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right?
Actually, that’s part of the issue that’s been at hand from the beginning.
The biggest difference between the modern helmets that are approved and Brown’s older model is that current helmets are formed after having taken a custom, 3D scan of the player’s head. The Air Advantage is so named because the inside of the helmet uses an air bladder to properly seat itself to a player’s head.
To learn more about how modern NFL helmets work, Steelers Now reached out to Riddell’s Jeff Hartung, who manages the company’s accounts with several NFL and college teams, including the Steelers and Pitt Panthers.
SN: What is different about the helmet that Brown wanted to use?
Hartung: It’s your basic, air-fitted protective helmet. The shell at that time was a pretty generic shell. We’ve advanced the technology.
SN: Why have helmet designs changed?
Hartung: People think they see one big hit and that’s what causes (a concussion). … But there’s a lot of hits in the game. It’s important to have technology that’s just as good with the small, continuous hits as it is with the big ones.
Technology has changed. We’re now able to three-dimensionally scan a guy and make a helmet fit perfectly to his head with better protective qualities.
SN: What are the factors that might make a player prefer a certain helmet?
Hartung: In that era, protection was good. It wasn’t great. But the look was important. We always kidded or laughed because there was always a mirror test. You could talk to a player about protection, but the first thing he did was always go look in the mirror. I think those attributes of how he looked attributed to AB and those other players, that had a role in it.
And you can say that guys played their entire career in it and never had issues with head injuries in that helmet.
SN: Are modern players more focused on their safety than they used to be?
Hartung: The culture has changed with the college kids that are coming into the system now. Especially with helmets like the Riddell Speedflex that advanced the technology, these kids are getting educated. It’s helping the NFL guys because now these guys know about the precision technology.
Also, the recruiting aspect has changed, because parents are more educated today. When they’re going to colleges, it’s not about, ‘We’ve got three chrome, pretty looking helmets. You want your kid to come here.’
Parents are asking, ‘What helmets do you have to protect my kid.?’
That has been changing over the last five years.
Around the NFL: The Browns’ Backs Pummel Bengals
Welcome to Around the NFL, where Cale Berger of Steelers Now will recap early-week action and take a look ahead at some of the most important matchups from the Pittsburgh Steelers perspective.
THURSDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS
Cleveland Browns 35, Cincinnati Bengals 30
An AFC North rivalry kicked off Week Two on Thursday night, as the Cleveland Browns rode their power running game to a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt made their case as the league’s best rushing tandem, carrying for a combined 210 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Hunt also caught a score. The Bengals, who had the worst rush defense in the league last year, had no answer for Cleveland one-two punch, which looks even better with the addition of fullback Andy Janovich this offseason.
Success in the running game led to play-action opportunities for quarterback Baker Mayfield, which he and his receivers took full advantage of. Mayfield finally got on the same page with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., with the two connecting on a 43-yard score in the second quarter. Thursday showed that new head coach Kevin Stefanski’s system can work when the Browns are successful in the running game early and often.
The Browns defense battered quarterback Joe Burrow all night, sacking him three times and hitting on plenty more occasions. Still, Burrow was impressive in front of a national audience Thursday, remaining calm and collected under constant pressure from the ferocious Browns pass rush. He completed 37 of 61 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns.
Cleveland will host Washington next, and Cincinnati will travels to Philadelphia for their second-straight road game.
AROUND THE NFL THIS WEEKEND
Los Angeles Rams at Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m. FOX regional
A week after allowing quarterback Carson Wentz to be sacked eight times by Washington, the Philadelphia Eagles will welcome the league’s most fearsome pass rusher to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday when the Los Angeles Rams and defensive tackle Aaron Donald come to town.
Donald dominated the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football last week, recording a sack, a tackle-for-loss and four quarterback hits. His success opened up rush lanes for his teammates as well, as the Rams had three sacks, three tackles-for-loss and six hits as a team.
Luckily for the Eagles, reinforcements are on the way. Not only will they return tackle Lane Johnson, but they will also get back starting running back Miles Sanders. Both will have to provide a major boost in pass protection for Philadelphia to get back to their winning ways.
Also, former Steelers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave will make his Philadelphia debut on Sunday as well after missing their season opener with both a pectoral and hamstring injury. He should provide a big boost to an Eagles defense that allowed two rushing touchdowns to Washington last week.
Washington at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m., WPGH-TV
Following the Steelers’ home opener against the Broncos, fans in the Pittsburgh area will be treated to a duel of young quarterbacks in the late afternoon slot when Washington visits the Arizona Cardinals. Both teams are also coming off upset victories over division rivals.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2019 behind 3,722 passing yards and 24 total touchdowns. Murray was just as good kicking off 2020, posting 321 total yards and two touchdowns in Arizona’s shocking 24-20 win over San Francisco.
While his numbers may not be as eye-popping as Murray, Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins also led his squad to a Week 1 win behind 178 passing yards and a touchdown.
The two 2019 first rounders have been solid early, but both have struggled to protect the football throughout their short careers. Murray has 15 turnovers in 17 career games, Haskins has nine giveaways in ten.
As is often the case with young quarterbacks, success for Murray and Haskins on Sunday and going forward will be predicated on and determined by their ability to take care of the football.
Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans, 4:25 p.m. Sunday, KDKA-TV
No team was dealt a tougher hand to start the season than the Houston Texans, who begin 2020 facing three AFC juggernauts. Sandwiched between their opening night loss to the Chiefs and a Week 3 visit to Pittsburgh, the Texans will battle reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday.
Sunday’s matchup will be decided by which team dominates the redzone. The Ravens were phenomenal in the redzone offensively last season, scoring a league-leading 43 touchdowns. Houston was not as stellar defensively, allowing opponents to score touchdowns on 71.4% of their trips, the highest rate in the league.
The story was the same for Houston last week against Kansas City, as they allowed the Chiefs to score on seven of their eight redzone trips.
Baltimore also continued their trend of success from last season, scoring in the redzone at an 83% clip against the Browns last Sunday.
The Texans may have to do the impossible this week to get their first win of the season, which means stopping Jackson and Baltimore’s abundancy of running backs from finding the goal line.
REST OF THE SCHEDULE
New York Giants at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. CBS regional
Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys, 1 p.m, FOX regional
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m., FOX regional
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m., CBS regional
Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m., FOX regional
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m., CBS regional
San Francisco 49ers at New York Jets 1 p.m., FOX regional
Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m., KDKA-TV
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m., FOX regional
Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m., CBS regional
New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks, 8:20 p.m., NBC
New Orleans Saints at Las Vegas Raiders, 8:15 p.m. Monday, ESPN
Cam Heyward Named NFLPA Community MVP for Week 1
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward has been named NFLPA Community MVP for Week 1.
Heyward was honored for installing his first Little Free Library, a book-sharing box placed in underserved communities around the Pittsburgh area.
Congrats to @camheyward on being named Week 1 #CommunityMVP for installing his first Little Free Library. The book-sharing boxes provide 24-7 access to literacy for underserved Pittsburgh communities while honoring the legacy in education of his late grandfather. pic.twitter.com/uKwbnz28A1— NFLPA (@NFLPA) September 18, 2020
Little Free Library is a non-profit organization that “inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.”
The installation of the book-sharing boxes marks the launch of the Rufus and Judy Jordan Literacy Project, a new initiative of the Cameron Heyward Foundation that will work to promote children’s literacy and honor his late grandparents, both of whom were lifelong educators in Pittsburgh.
Drafted in first round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Heyward has spend his entire career in Pittsburgh. He is a three-time Pro Bowler, and has twice received First-Team All-Pro honors.
Heyward and the Steelers agreed to a four-year, $71.4 million contract extension on Sept. 6 that will allow him to retire in Pittsburgh and make him the highest-paid defense player over the age of 30 in NFL history.
Report: Titans to Allow 7,000 Fans for Game Against Steelers
The Tennessee Titans will reportedly announce Thursday that they will be able to have 7,000 fans in attendance for their Week 4 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to Outkick.com’s Clay Travis.
The Oct. 4 meeting between the two AFC sides will be the first game with fans inside Nissan Stadium, with the total gradually increasing over the following weeks. Approximately 8,600 fans are planned to be in attendance Oct. 11 against the Buffalo Bills and then 10,400 are expected the following week when the Houston Texans visit on Oct. 18.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper is expected to make a formal announcement this afternoon, Travis reports.
While the Steelers have already ruled out fans for their first two home games against the Denver Broncos this Sunday and the Texans on Sept. 27, the organization has not yet announced a decision on fan attendance for the remainder of the season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were the only team that played in front of fans this past weekend, with seating capped at 25% capacity inside TIAA Bank Field for their season-opening win against the Indianapolis Colts.