The National Football League has suspended Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown for three games after determining he did indeed submit a phony COVID-19 vaccination card before the season. But he wasn’t the only one. Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards and former teammate John Franklin III are also banned for the next three weeks. The league determined they violated “jointly developed and administered NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols.”
Antonio Brown suspended over fake COVID-19 card
The suspensions are effective immediately. The players waived their right to appeal. NFL Network reported that the Buccaneers assisted in the investigation and were not fined.
“The health and safety of players and personnel is our top priority,” the NFL and NFLPA said in a joint statement. “The protocols were jointly developed working with our respective experts to ensure that we are practicing and playing football as safely as possible during the ongoing pandemic. “The NFL-NFLPA jointly reinforce their commitment and further emphasize the importance of strict adherence to the protocols to protect the well-being of everyone associated with the NFL.”
The union represented the three players during the review into allegations that they misrepresented their vaccination status under the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols.
“That review supported those allegations and found that the three players violated the protocols,” the NFL said in a statement.
What’s next for Antonio Brown?
Brown, through his attorney, had previously insisted that he was vaccinated. That was a lie. By agreeing to the punishment, Brown can return for the final three weeks of the season and the entire playoffs. Nonetheless, Brown is dealing with a significant ankle injury that may have sidelined him anyway for this week’s game.
“We appreciate the league’s timely handling of this matter and recognize the importance of the health and safety protocols that have been established,” the Buccaneers said in a statement. “We will continue to implement all league COVID-19 protocols.”
Brown has been long-rumored to have submitted a doctored document the NFL uses as vaccination proof for a player. However, he also offered his hookup to other NFL players. Those rumors were made public when Brown’s former chef, Steven Ruiz, told the Tampa Bay Times that Brown’s girlfriend had asked him to get Brown a fake card. Ruiz couldn’t, but later learned Brown found someone else to provide him with one. Using or falsifying vaccine records is a federal offense.
Edwards is a backup safety who has appeared in all 11 games for Tampa this year. Franklin has been out of the league since the Bucs cut him in August.