Sports | December 2, 2021 7:24 pm

It Sure Sounds Like Antonio Brown Had a Fake COVID-19 Vaccine Card

Brown was one of three players suspended by the NFL for "misrepresenting their vaccination status"

Antonio Brown of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before a game
Antonio Brown of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before a game against the Eagles.
Mitchell Leff/Getty

Following a joint investigation by the NFL and NFLPA following a Tampa Bay Times article reporting that Antonio Brown’s former live-in chef accused the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver of obtaining a fake COVID-19 vaccine card, Brown has been suspended three games for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols.

Though the league and union stopped short of calling out Brown’s specific infraction, the league said the suspension was due to the player “misrepresenting” his vaccination status. In addition to Brown, Buccaneers backup safety Mike Edwards and free-agent wide receiver John Franklin III (who was waived by Tampa Bay in August) were also suspended for three games. All of the players accepted their discipline and will not appeal.

“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 NFL and NFLPA said in a joint statement.

Once they serve their suspensions, Brown and Edwards will be eligible to return to Tampa Bay’s lineup for the team’s game against the Carolina Panthers the day after Christmas. “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 team said after the suspensions were announced. “We will continue to implement all league COVID-19 protocols.”

The NFL’s findings contradict what Brown’s attorney, Sean Burstyn, said after the Tampa Bay Times article was published, going so far as to assert his vaccinated client was willing to get his booster shot on live television.

For those who want to play conspiracy theorists, Franklin III and Edward’s suspensions are worth noting as Brown’s chef, Steven Ruiz, told ESPN that his former employer had obtained his fake vaccine card from a Buccaneers teammate. Also worth noting is that Alex Guerrero, a personal trainer and co-founder of TB12 with Tom Brady, took a photograph of Brown’s vaccination card over the summer, per the account Ruiz gave to the Tampa Bay Times.

“To document the list of vaccinated players as quickly as possible, the Bucs would sometimes have Guerrero or others in the organization photograph the cards to send to head trainer Bobby Slater and eventually to their infection control officer,” per the Times.

According to Tampa Bay, “all vaccination cards were reviewed by Buccaneers personnel and no irregularities were observed.”

Something clearly doesn’t check out, but at this point it all just adds up to a three-game suspension for Brown and two other players.