Why Antonio Brown risks $30M payday amid NFL helmet dispute

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The NFL warned on Monday that Oakland Raiders star Antonio Brown must wear a league-certified helmet or risk breaching his contract for the 2019 – and forfeiting paychecks in the process.

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Brown, 31, filed a formal grievance against the NFL over a rule that requires players to wear helmets that have been certified by the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) to protect against possible head injury, according to multiple reports. Brown argues that he should be allowed to use his 10-year-old helmet model despite the league’s restriction.

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Brown, who has missed most of Raiders’ training camp over the helmet issue and injuries to his feet, has told Raiders officials that he won’t play football again unless he can wear his helmet, ESPN reported. If Brown follows through on his threat and retires from football or voluntarily sits out of team activities, he would void a three-year, $50 million contract that is set to pay him $30 million in guaranteed money over the next two seasons.

“The player can’t practice or play in games with equipment that’s not approved,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarty wrote on Twitter. “If he doesn’t play or practice he is in breach of his contract and doesn’t get paid. NFL policy is that helmets have to be certified by the NOSCAE. They don’t certify equipment that’s old [sic] than 10 years.”

An independent arbitrator is set to make a decision on Brown’s grievance as soon as this week, according to reports. The NFL began enforcing bans on de-certified helmet models this season.

The clash over Brown’s helmet is the latest development in a tumultuous offseason for the NFL star. Brown signed a contract extension with the Raiders after forcing a trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers in March.

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Brown is also recovering from severe frostbite on both feet after he entered a cryotherapy pod without proper footwear, according to multiple reports.

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