USA TODAY Sports’ Nancy Armour shares the latest on Antonio Brown’s on going helmet controversy.
USA TODAYThe 14th season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” really has turned into “As Antonio Brown’s World Turns.”On Thursday night, before the Oakland Raiders played the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in each teams’ second preseason game, Brown was on the field during pregame warm-ups, running routes and catching passes. It appeared as if he was almost ready to rejoin his new team on the practice field.What you might have also noticed about his pregame workout was his helmet. It wasn’t his preferred Schutt AiR Advantage helmet. Rather, it was one of the NFL and NFL Players Association approved helmets that Brown has been adamant that he doesn’t want wear.”That’s one of the new and improved helmets, and he really doesn’t like it,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden tells ESPN’s Lisa Salters as they talk on the field during the pregame. Moments later, cameras catch Brown talking to a teammate.”This lid? This lid ugly as (expletive) yo,” Brown says.With his feet healing, the helmet saga remains a real bugaboo. On Monday, it was reported that Brown filed a new helmet grievance against the NFL. Then Tuesday, Brown was back on the practice field with the Raiders … wearing a helmet model approved by the NFL and NFLPA. Can’t wait to see what Wednesday might bring!HARD KNOCKS EPISODE 2 RECAP: Antonio Brown shows off burned feetHARD KNOCKS EPISODE 1 RECAP: Gruden ends NFL dreams earlyHARD KNOCKS: Greatest moments of all timeHere are some other notable moments from the third episode of “Hard Knocks: Training camp with the Oakland Raiders”: Jon Gruden stands by Antonio BrownDespite the zaniness of the Antonio Brown experience, Jon Gruden hasn’t wavered in his support for the mercurial wide receiver.”We’ve known the whole time he had frostbite. He took four to five days to get it checked out. We knew about the (helmet) grievance since the first day of OTAs,” Gruden says. “I don’t know what the (expletive) story is around here?”I give the guy credit for standing up for what he believes in.”Later, after a walk-through practice in which Brown runs routes, catches passes and looks like an actual part of the team, Gruden and Brown have a candid, yet poignant, conversation. Gruden asks Brown about his feet. Brown says he feels good, but that his feet can get hot and then he feels the need to take his shoes off.”Why don’t you go to a cryo chamber?” Gruden jokes.”(Expletive) that coach, not again,” Brown responds.Then Brown gets serious.”Thanks for supporting me coach. My (expletive) head, the feet. You’ve been the constant supporter.””Thanks for supporting me, coach.” Jon Gruden building his bond with @AB84 💯#HardKnockspic.twitter.com/sXDKc3lLn6— NFL (@NFL) August 21, 2019Brown wants us to know he’s working hardBrown and offensive lineman Richie Incognito engage in some small talk. Of course, the conversation quickly shifts to feet.”How are you feeling? What are they doing for your feet? Oils and (expletive)?” Incognito asks.”They cut the skin off. Try to run and see how that feels,” Brown responds.Brown dives into his recovery from frostbitten feet.”The feet feeling a lot better,” Brown said. “I’ve got great, new skin, got it all trimmed up. It’s been a journey, man, but I feel a lot better. Working with the NFL, getting the right equipment and I’ve been working hard on the side to get going and take care of the feet. I want to give it to my teammates and hopefully soon. Get out there and get to work. Too much noise right now. More work, less noise.”I feel like I was enemy of the (expletive) state. (Expletive). Getting my (expletive) feet trimmed up. I’m on every channel: ‘AB is actually a good player. A really good player.’ And he’s a handsome-looking player, by the way. That’s all it is right there.”Cameras roll as Brown goes through a solo workout with Fantastic Negrito’s “Bull—- Anthem” as the soundtrack.“So, we’re just going to talk about how hard I work instead of all that nonsense people want to make me out to be. Just a young, black skinny kid working really hard, and it’s starting to pay off. I think I’m a master of adversity,” Brown says. “Got my (expletive) new skin. Got my socks back. I’m on my way back, baby.”Johnathan Abram on his ‘Madden’ ratingsAbram has been one of the top supporting “Hard Knocks” characters. This time, it was a conversation with representatives for the “Madden” video game.Abram confronts them about his rating (FYI: Abram has an overall rating of 69).”What do you think you should be?” they ask.”Like 90s,” Abram responds.”You’re speed rating is a 91.””I’m fast. You still have my strength low, my tackling low.” “Other than strength and tackling, what about your coverage?””My coverage low.””Are you better at man coverage or zone coverage?””Both.””Both? Which one, if you had to pick one, are you better at?””Man.”There you have it. Expect an update to Abram’s “Madden” ratings coming soon.Frank Caliendo spoofs Jon GrudenThe show opened with some serious levity as comedian/impressionist Frank Caliendo made an appearance as “Jon Gruden.” Caliendo’s most famous foray into impersonating Gruden came on ESPN’s “Gruden’s QB Camp” show, when Caliendo as Gruden came face-to-face with the real Gruden, then serving as the frontman for the Fired Football Coaches Association. As the episode opens — for the third consecutive time — with the real Gruden giving his team a pep talk, quarterback Derek Carr speaks up.”We got one rookie who hadn’t sang yet. Jon Gruden,” Carr says.Caliendo appears”Name, school, signing bonus,” Carr says.”Jon Gruden. University of Dayton. I’d do this (expletive) for free. You know why? Because I (expletive) love football. Knock on wood if you’re with me,” Caliendo as Gruden says. Tonight on #HardKnocks…Gruden brings in a guest close to his own heart.@FrankCaliendopic.twitter.com/wI7fS4hTGt— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) August 20, 2019Caliendo as Gruden continues: “All right, here’s the deal, you guys are going to go out there and (expletive) run over these guys tomorrow. And I’m going to yell for no (expletive) reason.””Why don’t you do something funny here tonight, Frank,” the real Gruden asks.”I ran out of stuff about five minutes ago, man.”Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideIf you love talking football, we have the perfect spot for you. Join our Facebook Group, The Ruling Off the Field, to engage in friendly debate and conversation with fellow football fans and our NFL insiders.