Antonio Brown’s feet look like a horror show. Here’s why.

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Each year an unexpected star emerges from Hard Knocks, and this season it’s Antonio Brown’s feet — which are a horror show. The show never really outlined what precisely was wrong with Brown’s feet outside of him suffering “an injury,” but now we know.

Brace yourself, because you’re about to see them and I’m not going to be responsible for what happens when you do.

 via @ab, Instagram

Some quick observations about Brown’s feet.

  • Brown’s big toes look like Goombas from Super Mario Bros.
  • It’s like he’s wearing a skin suit, and the feet tore.
  • If the floor is lava then these feet are baklava.

I’m needing to tell jokes to cope with this. Give me this, OK?

Seriously, what is happening here?

Brown reported to training camp with the Raiders and team doctors discovered he was suffering from serious frostbite on his feet. Over time this has resulted in the skin sloughing off his feet in sheets, as seen above — and that has led to him being able to participate very minimally in training camp thus far.

There’s no firm timetable on when Brown can return to the field, as he’s been referred to a foot specialist to treat the injury.

How did Brown get frostbite on his feet?

Many athletes are now opting for Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) as a means to either supplement traditional ice baths, or replace them entirely. This involves standing in a sealed room and being exposed to extremely cold, dry air for a period of 2-3 minutes. Temperatures are normally below -100 degrees, with liquid nitrogen and refrigerated air being used to blast the person receiving treatment.

The efficacy of this treatment is relatively unknown. While WBC has been around since the 1970s in Japan, its rise to prominence to treat athletes has really only started in the last 5-10 years. The belief is that WBC operates similarly to ice baths or ice-pack therapy, but at a much more pronounced level — treating minor injuries like muscle sprains and skin lesions quickly.

However, there are obvious risks associated too. Naturally the body isn’t meant to sustain these kind of temperatures, so precautions are typically taken to avoid any lasting damage. This includes the subject wearing a headband to cover the ears, a mask to avoid directly breathing in the cold air, and special dry socks or shoes, designed to provide a layer between the body and the ground.

It’s here where Brown went wrong:

According to a report from Pro Football Talk, Brown entered the cryochamber without appropriate footwear. This caused the frostbite, which is now a serious concern for the Raiders as the regular season draws near.

What is the timetable for his recovery?

This is the tricky part. It’s unclear when precisely Brown suffered the frostbite, but judging from the photo on his Instagram this is more serious that Stage 1 frostbite (sometimes referred to as “frostnip”). In cases of Stage 1 frostbite the skin typically takes on a reddish hue, often peeling similarly to a sunburn. This can last a few days, up to several weeks until full sensation returns to the affected area.

What makes frostbite diagnosis tricky is that no two cases are identical. However, the photo tends to support the idea that Brown has Stage 2 frostbite, which is characterized with either blistering, or hardened skin — which cracks and peels off. The real risk here is that Brown has done damage to the blood vessels in his feet, which, according to the Summit Medical Group, can take up to six weeks to be revealed.

Brown has participated in just one practice out of 11 this summer, but Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the Raiders said the injury is mostly a “non-issue” for them.

A completely unrelated matter might be, though.

OK, so what is going on with Brown’s helmet?

While many assumed Brown was away from the team due to his foot injury, that doesn’t seem to be entirely accurate:

According to Schefter, Brown filed a grievance against the NFL because the helmet that he’s worn his entire career is no longer allowed. Brown wants to continue wearing his preferred helmet, which is not certified by the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment because it’s more than 10 years old.

Here’s a sampling of a 20-tweet thread from NFL Network’s Mike Silver. It’s a journey:

The team told Schefter that it was “aware and supportive of Antonio Brown,” though now he’s threatening not to play:

Hopefully all of this — his foot injury on one end and his helmet gripe on the other — gets sorted out and Brown will be back on the field before too long.

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