Training camp report day seems like it was six months ago, doesn’t it? That was the day Jon Gruden was asked about Antonio Brown taking a hot air balloon ride that morning and Gruden perhaps jokingly said he expected a lot more drama from Antonio Brown. If this were a movie or, let’s say a reality show (cough-Hard-Knocks-cough), that would be what we call foreshadowing.
Gruden had no idea what he was in for over the next three weeks plus. A look at the timeline of events is pretty staggering. If you are in the ‘any publicity is good publicity’ camp, then you are probably thinking Antonio Brown is ready to have his star on the Hollywood walk of fame right about now.
Let’s relive it, shall we.
July 26 - Antonio Brown opens Raiders Napa training camp in style with hot air balloon ride, Gruden expected ‘a lot more drama’
Training camp report day. That morning Antonio Brown takes hot air balloon ride. Initially people were wondering if he actually showed up at the Napa Marriott in the balloon which would really be something, but no. Regardless, he made himself the top story from day one.
The team said they had known about the injury for a couple weeks and that Brown was expected to miss a week of camp. Yeah, about that...
July 28 - Training camp day two: Antonio Brown return to practice a brief one
The most exciting part of today’s practice happened right from the start of the day. When Antonio Brown took the field with his teammates. But it didn’t last long. Once stretching was to begin, his day was done.
July 29 - Antonio Brown posts video of son running route, catching pass from Derek Carr's son
Day three and Brown was once again not practicing. Through three practices, Antonio Brown and Derek Carr's kids had practiced together more this camp than their dads. And it was freaking adorable.
July 30 - Training camp day four: Antonio Brown suits up, schools defensive backs like he never left
The players took the field and Antonio Brown was with them. And he mad it to stretching and warmups this time. He went through one session of one-on-ones and his day was done. This time when he left, he was not seen again for a while. Unless you watched Hard Knocks that is.
July 31 - Antonio Brown ‘ready to unleash’ in Raiders camp and fellow receivers can’t wait
With the taste AB gave everyone on day four, his coaches and teammates were convinced it was the start of something. That his workload would only increase from that point forward. Narrator: It didn’t.
July 31 - Antonio Brown comes in at No.7 in the NFL Top 100 list
Hey some of that nice fluffy good news. We’re reminded of the talent Brown is when he’s on the field.
August 1 - Training camp day five: Antonio Brown absent again, posts video showing blistered feet
The Raiders returned to work after a day off. We really thought that would mean AB was back. But alas, he was mysteriously gone again (sad trombone).
August 3 - Antonio Brown to see foot specialist for blistered feet
Those gruesome feet of his needed checked out. And by a specialist because this is a considerably uncommon affliction.
August 6 - Antonio Brown foot injury said to be frostbite, still no timetable for return to Raiders
There have been a lot of theories as to what is going on with Antonio Brown’s feet. One theory I heard from a source in the medical field was frostbite from improper or prolonged use of cryogenic machine.
Man, if you caught the first episode of Hard Knocks, you’d think Antonio Brown attended most of Raiders camp. And it kind of felt that way in real life too. But nope. One series of drills in nearly two weeks of camp. But the Hark Knocks people sure got a lot of mileage out of it.
August 8 - Sports doctor chimes in with diagnosis on Antonio Brown's feet
Wednesday, noted sports doctor Dr Chao chimed in once again to give his diagnosis on what’s going on with Antonio Brown’s feet based on new info
August 10 - Raiders head coach Jon Gruden offers unwavering support for Antonio Brown through foot injury absence and helmet grievance
Jon Gruden stepped in front of the mic following the team’s first preseason game and sent a message of support for his embattled star receiver. Because you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
August 12 - Raiders WR Antonio Brown loses helmet appeal, makes statement ‘looking forward to rejoining my teammates’ once healthy
An NFL arbitrator has ruled against Antonio Brown’s appeal to wear his old helmet. At which point he said he suggested his feet issues were the only reason he hadn’t been practicing.
Brown immediately began searching for a Schutt Air Advantage manufactured within the last ten years.
August 13 - Antonio Brown’s agent made sure the media knew his client would be returning that day to join Raiders in Napa
And return he did. Not to practice, mind you. He showed up at the tail end of practice to address the media and ‘clear the air’
August 13 - Raiders confident Antonio Brown will be ready for season, agent says helmet issue overblown
Not only did AB speak, but Drew Rosenhaus was there as well to offer the version of things he wanted everyone to cover. That being that Brown’s injury is serious, no laughing matter, and that too much was being made about the helmet issue. Certainly that it was NOT the reason he wasn’t in camp.
August 13 - Second episode of Hard Knocks airs with inside look at Gruden frustrations with AB absence
Gruden said when asked by the media that he was always aware of where Antonio Brown was and what was going on with him, but through the Hard Knocks lens, he was clearly pretty frustrated with the lack of information and communication when it came to Brown’s status and whereabouts. At one point he literally says “Can anyone tell me where my friend Antonio Brown is?”
August 14 - Celebrity chef is suing Antonio Brown for unpaid bill
The actual court filing occurred at the end of July, but the report came out the day after Brown and his agent had attempted to put out other media fires surrounding him. Throw some more logs on that blaze.
No better damage control than to see Brown suited up, with a helmet, catching passes and looking like he absolutely ready to go. If this were the start of something, everything else would be water under the bridge.
Gruden’s spirits were as high as they’d been all camp with regard to Antonio Brown. And he was very optimistic Brown would return to finish out camp.
August 17 - Antonio Brown full participant in Raiders camp walk-thrus, Derek Carr sees nothing holding him back
The optimism from Gruden continued and Derek Carr joined in as well. Brown was not limited in their walk-thrus, giving Derek Carr every reason to think Brown was finally back full go and ready to prepare for the season.
August 17 - Antonio Brown has harsh words for NFL as league rejects another helmet
After allowing Brown to seek a Schutt Air Advantage helmet newer than ten years old, the NFL tested the helmet and deemed it unsafe, thereby denying his request to use it. What a clusterf—k.
What a difference a day makes. Saturday Jon Gruden and Derek Carr were ecstatic about Antonio Brown participating in walk-thrus and both talked with near certainty that Brown would continue to be a full participant in practices. That all changed when the league denied his helmet loophole attempt. The Raiders finally put their foot down and took off the kid gloves.
What does today have in store? A tweet or instagram post? Another bombshell report?
More importantly, where do we go from here? There’s no practice Monday. Camp broke in Napa a day earlier than originally scheduled. The next practice will be in Alameda on Tuesday. We may have an idea of how Antonio responds to Mike Mayock’s ultimatum. It’s clear Mayock and Gruden want him in Alameda with his teammates. If he doesn’t show up, things could go from bad to worse.
Update: This is the best I can do for an update on this:
So, Antonio Brown missing camp had nothing to do with the helmet issue which was “overblown” but also a “major issue”. And he returned to camp today that broke yesterday and participated in a practice the Raiders weren’t having. I think I’m all caught up.— Levi Damien (@LeviDamien) August 19, 2019