Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara doesn’t miss an episode of ‘‘Hard Knocks.’’
He loved the first installment this season, which is following the Raiders as they prepare for their final season in Oakland. When it was over, Amukamara immediately wondered when Episode 2 was due out.
He won’t want to miss that one.
On Friday, ESPN reported superstar receiver Antonio Brown, whom the Raiders acquired during the offseason, told the team he won’t play unless the NFL lets him continue to wear his 10-year-old helmet. League rules mandate he switch to a newer model. An independent arbitrator, who spoke with Brown on Friday, could rule early next week, ESPN reported.
Brown, however, is injured — and in the strangest way possible. He has extreme frostbite on both feet after not wearing proper footwear during a cryotherapy session last month in France, ESPN reported.
With each increasingly ridiculous Raiders moment, the Bears’ return for outside linebacker Khalil Mack gets sweeter.
The Bears still owe the Raiders their first- and third-round picks in the 2020 draft. The Raiders, however, are sending their second-round pick back. And if the offseason is any indication, it might be the first pick of the round.
‘‘So that is good — you’re right, you’re right,’’ Amukamara said. ‘‘Let’s hope that helmet doesn’t get . . . I’m kidding.’’
The Raiders sending the Bears a second-round pick didn’t make sense in the moment, and it only looks worse now. Ironically, the Raiders chose the Bears’ offer for Mack over others because they thought the Bears had a better chance to stink last season and hand over higher draft picks. It didn’t happen.
The first episode of ‘‘Hard Knocks’’ explained, all too hopefully, that the trade for Brown encapsulated the Raiders’ ‘‘Commitment to Excellence’’ mantra. Thus far, it’s looking like something else entirely.
‘‘It’s hard not to notice, right?’’ Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks said. ‘‘If you turn on ‘SportsCenter,’ turn on ESPN, if you turn on anything, you’re going to see some type of Oakland Raiders debacle. Things are going on.
‘‘I mean, that’s for them. I gotta say that from the guys that I know on this team, especially defensively, we’re not that.’’
Hicks said he doesn’t think about the draft pick and sympathizes with Brown. Two years ago, Hicks was told his helmet, which he had worn since his rookie season, no longer met the NFL’s safety standards.
His new helmet ‘‘closed off my vision’’ on the periphery, which is similar to Brown’s reported complaint. That was no small thing. Lined up over the guard, Hicks needs to watch the tackle and center out of the corner of his eye.
Bristling at a new helmet sounds strange to the outside world, but a trusty one feels like a part of you. It’s familiar and, in some cases, lucky. It took Hicks four or five months to be comfortable in his new one.
‘‘It was tough to move on,’’ he said.
Bears receiver Allen Robinson changes helmets every year in the name of safety. While he doesn’t watch ‘‘Hard Knocks’’ — he has a rule for visiting family that he won’t watch preseason games or the documentary — he knows enough about the Raiders to avoid the topic.
‘‘For me, there’s so much that goes on, so much extra that you have to tackle in your own domain,’’ he said. ‘‘For me, I don’t really follow too much of that stuff.’’
Amukamara does. He watches ‘‘Hard Knocks’’ at night, even though he lives it during the day.
‘‘Because it’s just better,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s great to see how it’s happening at the other team. And everywhere it’s pretty much the same.’’
Not this year.
‘‘It becomes a media circus,’’ Hicks said of the Raiders. ‘‘I don’t like media circuses.’’