Oakland Raiders receiver Antonio Brown was the focal point of the third “Hard Knocks” episode for the 2019 season. Brown’s foot problems and helmet grievance essentially had to be the biggest story on the episode — both storylines have dominated the national sports conversation for the last few weeks. So the HBO producers dove in.
The truth is that they probably got more than viewers saw. Coach Jon Gruden and the Raiders organization have veto power over what appears in the show, so perhaps they withheld new or juicy information about the latest on Brown. Still, we got some compelling soundbites from or about Brown in the latest episode.
1. ‘I feel like I was enemy of the (expletive state’
During a workout which seemed aimed to test the state of Brown’s feet, the receiver vented to a camera about how he has felt throughout this situation. And while Brown has brought the attention upon himself — filing a helmet grievance at the last possible moment when he knew the change was coming for years — he seemed to feel the criticism was a bit too intense.
“The feet feeling a lot better,” Brown said in the show that aired on Tuesday night. “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.”
The show did a nice job of demonstrating the immense coverage of Brown from NFL Network (which was also happening at ESPN and practically every other sports news outlet. The chatter about Brown was playing on the TVs inside the Raiders’ facility in offices, weight rooms and cafeterias.
Side note: Brown actually put on one of the helmets which he hates during a warmup before the Raiders game against the Arizona Cardinals in the second week of the preseason. His response to it?
“This lid ugly as (expletive, yo!” Brown said.
2. AB says his feet are burning from the heat, so…
Of course, Jon Gruden joked that, if Brown’s feet were so hot, he should hit the cryotherapy chamber to cool things off. The cooling therapy is why Brown is having problems — an accident caused significant blistering to his feet, which has held him out of practice.
3. ‘You can use my helmet’
After quarterback Mike Glennon finished off a drive with a touchdown during the preseason game, Gruden celebrated with Brown on the sideline.
“Good (expletive calls” Brown said to Gruden, referring to Gruden’s offensive play calling. “You’re killing this (expletive.”
“When are you ready?” Gruden asked with a smile. “I’m ready for you. … You can use my helmet, man.”
Gruden may have ribbed Brown during the game, in which the receiver didn’t log a snap, but the coach seemed to level with Brown at the start of the episode.
“I give the guy credit for standing up what he believes in. Everybody else does in this country,” Gruden said.
4. Brown trusts the analytics
Brown’s best line of the show had nothing to do with his helmet or his feet. The Raiders wideout was speaking with a sports scientist who discussed a correlation with Brown’s touchdown total and the fact that Brown ran further than some of the NFL’s elite receivers while also running faster than them.
“Men lie. Women lie. But the analytics don’t,” Brown said.
The football nerds — a.k.a. the analytics community — were a huge fan of that line.
5.AB’s favorite gatorade recipe
Hopefully this was genuine and I’m not just giving more reach to a well-orchestrated marketing attempt. But Brown had a hilarious fixation upon a particular Raiders staffer’s recipe of Gatorade. Brown fell in love with it at a practice, and started making it for himself during the second preseason. Brown even named the Gatorade recipe: That Drip Drop.
Is the trademarked yet?