Much has been said about the early marriage between Antonio Brown and the Oakland Raiders. First, there was the trade that sent Brown to the Buffalo Bills, which didn’t happen but helped the Raiders in the long run. Then there was the new contract the Raiders gave Brown which was part of the deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Next, Brown had the unfortunate cryotherapy accident which caused frostbite on his feet. After that was the helmet saga which had Brown leave camp twice to deal with the NFL and the rule that stated Brown couldn’t wear the model helmet he has worn his entire career. This forced Raiders GM Mike Mayock to publicly ask Brown whether he was “in or out”.

Count on Brown Delivering for Raiders

The media has had a field day with the AB stories. There was an “Antonio Brown watch” while at Raiders practices. HBO‘s Hard Knocks has followed the saga since Day 1 of Raiders’ training camp and sports talk hosts all weighed in on whether Brown should have just stayed at camp and found a new helmet while calling him (and his actions) a distraction. Does that sound about right? That’s a lot to take in considering the trade happened back on March 13th and I didn’t even get into the back-and-forth between Brown and his former Steelers teammates Ben Roethlisberger and JuJu Smith-Schuster. But make no mistake about it, the relationship between the Raiders and Brown is “BOOMIN” (as Brown likes to say) and the Raiders have zero regrets about trading for the ultra-talented wide receiver.

Raiders’ sources told me that his teammates love him and Brown has been a model teammate. His work ethic has impressed everyone–well, those not named (Raiders Head Coach) Jon Gruden and Mayock who already knew this. In fact, Gruden has publicly supported Brown which is the same message he has sent privately to his team, of which the Raiders’ players have taken notice. Brown has also taken notice and it has only strengthened the relationship between Gruden and his top receiving target. The Raiders as an organization have supported Brown and questioned why the NFL didn’t deal with Brown’s helmet issue prior to OTA’s when he first found out that he would be unable to wear the helmet rather than waiting until now. “If it is important to AB, then it’s important to us, the Raiders organization,” a Raiders’ source told me.

Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr and Brown have connected on and off the field and that comes as no surprise since the two have stated publicly at the NFL Pro Bowl a few years back that they would love to play together. Carr supports Brown and feels like Brown has been a great teammate so far during his time in Oakland. He is beyond excited to get on the field and show their chemistry in an actual game instead of practice. Brown gives Carr his best target and first legitimate weapon that strikes fear into opponents. Brown has said Carr has the best arm talent he has ever played with, so it’s so-far, so-good for the Raiders duo.

Count on Brown Delivering for Raiders

But back to the “off the field” things that have taken Brown away from practice… I actually AGREE with Brown in every case so far. Brown has every right to be upset about the timing of the NFL and their helmet policy. Brown, his agent Drew Rosenhaus, and the NFL should’ve had a reasonable solution in place for Brown concerning his helmet grievance. But by waiting for the season to get closer with Hard Knocks cameras rolling, it brought a new storyline and drama to Raiders camp. The saga appears to be over, with the NFL (for the second time) ruling against Brown’s helmet grievance. While Pro Football Talk reports that Brown may have a deal in place for his own helmet, Brown is still recovering from the frost bite on his feet. Yes, he is running, and if the season started today he would be playing, but fans, media, and others made it a distraction. But why? Antonio Brown takes pride in his work ethic and his body. He understands that recovery is just as important as lifting, running, or practicing. Recovery is key for any athlete, and the great ones know this (Lebron James spends over a million dollars a year in recovery). Why be upset at brown for the accident when it was the company’s fault it happened in the first place by putting the wrong shoes on him while in the cryo-chamber?

Count on Brown Delivering for Raiders

Truth be told, and to quote Allen Iverson, “We are talking about practice. Not a game, but practice.” If it were ANY other Raiders player currently on the roster, I would be worried, but not Brown. His offseason workouts and passing sessions with Carr and other teammates this past offseason should have Raiders’ fans feeling at ease. He’s been working with Carr since March, has the playbook down, and is ready to go. AB is going to do what he has done his entire career: play with a huge chip on his shoulder, make plays, and ball out. If you’re a member of Raider Nation, do what the team is doing: block out the white noise, focus on the final season in Oakland, and get ready to become the Las Vegas Raiders playing at Allegiant Stadium aka “The Death Star” in 2020.