Barber: Antonio Brown’s feet are holding Raiders back
Antonio Brown figures to be a major character on “Hard Knocks,” HBO’s training camp documentary series, this summer. Episode 1 featured him working out with his personal trainer, ascending over Napa Valley in a hot air balloon and hanging out with his adorable children, one of whom asked the wide receiver at a camp practice, “Where’s Roethlisberger?”
Ben Roethlisberger is not practicing behind the Napa Valley Marriott, because he is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Brown’s former team. And Brown is not practicing with the Raiders right now, because — well, it’s a weird story.
Let’s just say that if Brown is a “Hard Knocks” star, he’s a minor character on the field. An extra, really, relegated to background scenes.
Brown has made attempts to participate. He tried to fight through pain to practice one day last week. But, as detailed on the HBO show, Raiders head trainer H. Rod Martin suggested the team dial down Brown’s participation because, competitor that he is, he simply doesn’t know how to go three-quarters speed.
Brown’s status on the Non-Football Injury list has been a source of buzz since the Raiders opened camp on July 27. From the start, though, Raiders coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock said it was no big deal. That Brown simply had sore feet. That he’d be back any day.
That was nearly two weeks ago, and Brown remains sidelined. And now we know the backstory.
As first reported by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, co-host of a podcast called PFT Live, and filled out by ESPN and other outlets, Brown’s condition stems from a visit to a cryotherapy chamber in France. Pro tip: Be wary of any method of therapy that begins with the word “cry.”
According to US Cryotherapy, their service involves stepping into an ultra-cold-air chamber that reduces skin temperature between 30 and 45 degrees in just a few minutes. It’s like a turbo version of the old ice tub. The company claims that cryotherapy enhances motion in the muscles and joints, increases blood flow, rejuvenates the body, skin and mind, and reduces stagnant blood within the muscle tissue.
Just one problem in Antonio Brown’s case: Somehow, he emerged from the chamber with the bottoms of his feet badly burned. Are you supposed to wear shoes? Was there a flaw in the machine? I don’t know. But the best wide receiver in the NFL now has a case of something very similar to frostbite on the soles of both feet.
Which explains why, when Brown posted a photo of his mangled extremities on Instagram last Saturday, they looked like the feet of Ernest Shackleton on Day 604 of the disastrous expedition of the Endurance, the flesh yellowed and peeling away.
Perhaps Brown should have worked out with Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman instead. Looking at the Los Angeles roster during the teams’ joint practice Wednesday, I noticed that Robey-Coleman is from Frostproof, Florida.
Wait a minute, am I making jokes about an athlete’s medical condition? That goes against my personal code of conduct. Certainly, there is nothing funny about the pain Brown is experiencing. But his self-inflicted wounds are so off the wall, it’s hard not to be cynical about them.