Before the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football, Jesse Palmer of NFL Network reported that left tackle Joe Staley wore the same helmet as Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown since 2003, with a very short unsuccessful switch in 2012. Staley said he loved the helmet and to a degree understands why Brown doesn’t want to switch. Staley admitted that he wasn’t happy when he was forced to switch as well. Staley also understood that he had to be compliant and ended up switching.
Palmer asked Staley if it was as simple as just changing helmets. Here’s Staley’s full quote:
“No, I made a big stink about it. I loved that helmet. It’s a suctioned cup to your head. It didn’t move at all. In my opinion, and again, this is just my opinion, but I understand why Antonio Brown is upset. It’s not a vision thing. I’m not a wide receiver, but when you’re sprinting down the field, the helmet doesn’t move because it’s stuck right against your head.”
Staley proceeded to show Palmer the scare on his nose. Staley tried to switch in 2012 to a helmet because of some of the safety concerns. During the first game he wore the helmet, it slid down, broke his nose, and took some skin off.
He switched back.
Staley said now he wears a helmet that was designed with a 3-D printer to fit his head perfectly. Staley said the new helmet is “right there with it[his old helmet], but not quite. It still has some movement.”
That was the at Lambeau field in 2012. Former offensive line coach Mike Solari said that Staley still didn’t want to come out of the game. He got his nose cleaned up and went right back in. Unbelievable.
I imagine that most of the players feel a level of empathy for Brown, but they all understand that “rules are rules,” and it has to be done.