TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown and safety Mike Edwards have each been suspended three games for misrepresenting their vaccination status.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, both players have accepted the discipline and waived their right of appeal. Both players have been suspended without pay.
The NFL and the players association said in a joint statement: “The health and safety of players and personnel is our top priority. 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.”
Brown had previously been accused of obtaining a fake COVID vaccination card by his former live in-chef, according to NBC Sports.
According to the report, Brown’s former chef — to whom he reportedly owes $10,000 — claims Brown’s girlfriend was willing to pay $500 to get a Johnson & Johnson vaccination card.
Misrepresenting the official seal of a U.S. agency — like the CDC logo on vaccine cards — could be a violation of federal law, according to the Department of Justice. Violators could face up to five years in prison or a $5,000 fine.
In a new statement shared with Rapoport, Brown’s lawyer Sean Burstyn says Brown is “vaccinated and continues to support the vaccine for any person for whom it is appropriate.”
“The NFL made its determination and, instead of going through the drawn out and distracting process of challenging the outcome, Mr. Brown wrapped this up promptly and he will make this [sic] most of this time by treating his ankle injury.”
The Buccaneers released a statement Thursday afternoon, saying, “We appreciated the League’s timely handling of this matter and recognize the importance of the health and safety protocols that have been established. We will continue to implement all-league COVID-19 protocols.”