Antonio Brown and his helmet ordeal (among other things) with the Oakland Raiders has been scrutinized constantly. But ‘Hard Knocks’ showed a new side.
Over the past couple of weeks, new Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown has become a football pariah in terms of his perception in the media. First, it was the frostbitten feet then it was the helmet issue, the latter of which is still somewhat ongoing as he’s filed another grievance regarding the matter.
The result of this has been portrayed to be unrest in Oakland. Most things you read, even if about Brown trying to practice, show this story in a light where the Raiders are already sick of Brown and his antics. I even took my own venture down that road, diving into the absurdity of the situation as we were seeing it.
On Tuesday night, though, we got a different side of the story, painting the situation with Antonio Brown and the Oakland Raiders in an entirely different light. This, of course, was courtesy of HBO’s Hard Knocks.
As you would expect, much of Hard Knocks episode 3 focused on Brown and the drama that has surrounded the wide receiver. And the All-Pro talent wasn’t seen as a player who didn’t have mercurial tendencies, didn’t care about using his old helmet and wasn’t a big personality for the Raiders to contend with. That would be an obvious fabrication or disguising of the truth.
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Instead, we saw Brown living harmoniously with the Raiders. Head coach Jon Gruden was supporting of his new offensive weapon. And while general manager Mike Mayock issued his ultimatum about being “all-in”, it didn’t seem to come out of a place of malice but rather from a ship captain trying to take his vessel home and putting the pieces in place to do so.
Additionally, reports that came out when the helmet issues first came to light seemed to indicate that Brown was, in essence, making himself an outcast in the Raiders locker room. That’s not what it looked like on Hard Knocks, though, as the wideout joked around with Vontaze Burfict and plenty of other teammates throughout the episode.
This is a reality TV show we’re talking about — so questioning the validity and authenticity of everything we saw isn’t unwarranted. At the same time, though, these aren’t actors but rather athletes and coaches. Them faking what appeared to be real sentiment and emotion about the situation seems unlikely given that.
At one point in the episode, Brown thanked Gruden for supporting him, saying that his head coach has been his “constant supporter.” That’s a side of this situation we’ve not seen before, a side of Brown we’ve truly not seen in all this. And frankly, it puts the situation in a light that makes things seem far less dire in Oakland than they did before.
There’s no question that adding a player with the tendencies of Brown makes for a combustible situation. If you ask Hard Knocks, though, it appears that the Raiders are more than ready and capable of containing the situation and surviving intact.