The ongoing off-field mess involving new Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown, his outdated helmet and his refusal currently to participate in their training camp, has ties to South Florida.
That’s where Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus resides and he gave an update Sunday night on the situation from Browns point of view to WSVN TV. Rosenhaus is a weekly guest on their Sunday night “Sports Xtra” show during the football season and obviously Brown and his helmet issues are one of the top off the field topics in the NFL right now:
Antonio Brown's agent — @RosenhausSports — provides an update on where AB stands with the Raiders after GM Mike Mayock's comments today about Brown being "all in or all out." pic.twitter.com/VWOBfzPvwH
— 7 Sports Xtra (@7SportsXtra) August 19, 2019
“I’m not sure that we agree that we’ve exhausted all the options, as Mike Mayock said. But there’s no doubt it’s still an ongoing process. We are trying to work with the team and the league and the union to come up with a solution. We haven’t figured it out yet,” Rosenhaus told the show.
He continued, “To say that AB is upset about the decision to not let him wear his helmet is accurate, but we’re still processing it and figuring it out. I wouldn’t make too much about him not being there today, as much as we’re still trying to come up with a solution that works for everyone.”
Brown is balking at having to switch to a new modernized helmet from the Schutt Air Advantage model helmet that he has been wearing throughout his nine-year NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The NFL contends that that helmet is outdated, too old and not safe. And, they denied Brown’s request to continue to use the helmet, when he filed a grievance with the league last week.
The only exception is: that if Brown can find a newer model of the helmet( less than 10 years old) and the NFL says that it will test it and potentially certify him to play with it. As of yet, Brown has not found a model that is within the guidelines and passes the test. So, Brown is back refusing to participate in workouts with his new team, the Raiders.
He is shown in the photo above, participating in pregame warmup last Thursday night with the Raiders in Arizona, while wearing the outlawed helmet. Brown did not play in the exhibition game.
On Sunday, Mayock, the Raiders new GM, who along with head coach Jon Gruden engineered the offseason trade for Brown from Pittsburgh to Oakland, publicly repeated frustration that Brown is refusing to come in practice with his team, that’s now in the fourth week of training camp.
“You all know that A.B. is not here today. So here’s the bottom line. He’s pretty upset about the helmet issue,” Mayock said. “We have supported that. We appreciate that. But at this point, we’ve pretty much exhausted all avenues of relief. So from our perspective, it’s time for him to be all in or all out. So we’re hoping he’s back soon.”
Brown is from Miami Gardens and is a former star at Norland High School in Miami. He later went on to great success at Central Michigan and was picked in the sixth round by the Steelers in 2010. Brown is a seven time Pro Bowler and a four time first team All Pro and is regarded as one of the two or three best receivers in all of the NFL.
Almost all of the NFL players have switched over to the compliant newer football helmets and the league even created a special Sports Science Department that specifically to tests helmets and studies impact/head trauma.
Brown is part of a small group of players that have been “grandfathered in” during previous seasons to allow them wear the older helmets. That group includes, Patriots QB Tom Brady and Saints QB Drew Brees. However, the helmets have had to continue to undergo testing, and the league has now decided if they’re more than 10 years old they cannot be used in games.
That’s the issue with Brown.
The league wants the players to use a more modernized and safer helmet and Brown will not agree to do that for, now. However, he went through the mandated arbitration system and lost his appeal last week.
A Monday morning update from Napa, California, is that Brown is back at Raiders training camp and was in their team meeting.
Update: Antonio Brown was at the facility this morning and in attendance at the team meeting. The walk-through practice was canceled. But Brown is back for now. https://t.co/6gb5zFJKmO
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 19, 2019
However, it’s unclear if he intends to practice with a different helmet, etc.
Time for concern after XFL TV ratings declined again last week?
For the second consecutive week, the XFL televison ratings continued to slide in the wrong direction. And, the troubling part is that if the trend continues, the XFL will have no leverage for sponsors and revenue to keep it going long term.
First, here are the specifics on the bad viewership news: According to Showbuzzdaily.com all four XFL broadcasts last Saturday and Sunday afternoon had lower ratings in their slot than the previous week.
That includes the Tampa Bay Vipers home debut against Houston, which was the early game on ABC Saturday. And, while that window had 400,000 less viewers than week 2, the bigger concern is ABC has lost almost 40% of the audience from the 3.3 million average that watched their Week one debut game on Saturday afternoon.
The ratings downward trend is following the same pattern as last Spring’s Alliance of American Football, where the ratings dwindled to under a million fans for broadcasts by week five and eventually the league shut down after just eight weeks. This was in part because of concerns on how the AAF could make any revenue, through television in specific, if they had very little audience for the end of year one and to sell off of for year two.
Now, WWE owner Vince McMahon, who folded the XFL the first time in 2001 in large part because the television audience plummeted over the course of the first month or so of its existence and never recovered, has the same issue in 2020.
And, as we wrote previously, this audience decline while negative is far less McMahon’s original XFL and it’s first season of 2001. That’s when, it debuted on its first Saturday night on NBC with a massive 10.1 rating, which translated 18 years ago to more than 9.5 viewers on network TV. A Smashing success.
However, the XFL’s ratings plummeted starting the following week and had fewer than 25% of that opening night audience just a month later with the games still being shown on a Saturday night coveted slot on NBC. It doomed the league from a P.R. and sponsor standpoint and McMahon pulled the plug.
Now, in 2020, McMahon reportedly has money to burn and is apparently prepared to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in year one. So, even if the XFL TV ratings continue come down significantly, it will not spell the end of the XFL (like it did nearly 20 years ago) after just a single season.
At least, that’s what we think.
Vipers better but drop third straight game in home opener
Although their play was improved offensively, in the end it wasn’t enough for the Tampa Bay Vipers after they dropped their third straight XFL game to start the season 34 – 27 to Houston Saturday afternoon in Tampa.
Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, as Houston scored early in the fourth quarter to go up by seven and held off the Viper the rest of the way.
The Vipers offense came to life after they had failed to score in the offensive touchdown in either of their first two games. Both of which were losses on the road. Quarterback Taylor Cornelius, subbing for starter Aaron Murray who missed his second straight game with an injured foot, once again had modest numbers 16-31 for 193 yards 1 TD, 1 INT.
However, he did pull the game even at 18 – 18 at the half after scoring on a one yard QB sneak and Tampa Bay got the two-point conversion.
Still, the former Oklahoma State quarterbacks day was inconsistent and the home crowd at Raymond James Stadium began to chant the name “Flowers, Flowers” for former USF Star Quarterback Quinton Flowers, who played sparingly for the third straight game in a reserve role.
Flowers got Tampa Bay’s first offensive TD on the young season with a seven yard run in the first quarter, but only played QB sparingly in the game, again. He was just 4-6 for 57 yards passing with 29 yards on six attempts on the ground.
Meanwhile, the former Temple star Walker found receiver Cam Phillips for the third of their three touchdown hookups from 17 yards out to give Houston a 34 – 27 lead with just over 10 minutes to play. Phillips devastated Jerry Glanville’s Vipers defense for 194 yards receiving on eight catches with the three TDs.
The Vipers look like they were going to have a chance to re-tie the game when Cornelius (above) completed a pass to his top target on the day, Jaylen Tolliver, at the two-yard line. However just like a week ago in Seattle when a critical fourth quarter drive stalled and Tampa Bay came away with no points in a 17 – 9 lost the Dragons, the Vipers got no points after Cornelius threw incomplete on second, third and fourth downs.
Many in the crowd and observers in the media were curious, as to why coach Marc Trestman didn’t go to Flowers as the dual threat running QB to at least try something different on one of those plays? Flowers even questioned why he did not play more after the game to the media.
The Vipers got the ball one final time, but Cornelius was picked off near midfield with just over a minute left to seal the defeat.
The Vipers played the first spring professional football game in Tampa, since the closing of the USFL 1985 season. That’s when Steve Spurrier’s Tampa Bay Bandits were a popular item at Old Tampa Stadium. Saturday’s home opener drew and announced crowd of 18,117.
However it’s little consolation for former Bears and CFL coach Trestman and his team, as they remain winless on the season. The L.A. Wildcats playing Sunday are the other 0-2 team in the league, currently.
And, you have to wonder whether Trestman will be forced to go to Flowers for the start when they host the D.C. Defenders next week.