NFL Suspends Three Players Including Bucs WR Antonio Brown For COVID Protocol Violations

The NFL announced Thursday that they’ve suspended Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown and DB Mike Edwards without pay for the next three games for misrepresenting their vaccination status under the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 Protocol. 

Antonio Brown

The NFL also suspended free agent John Franklin III

Here’s the full release from the NFL:

The National Football League announced today discipline of three players for violating jointly developed and administered NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols.

“Tampa Bay’s Antonio Brown and Mike Edwards have each been suspended without pay for the next three games. Free agent John Franklin III, if signed by a club, is also ineligible to play in the next three games. All three players have accepted the discipline and waived their right of appeal. The suspensions are effective immediately.

“The NFLPA represented the three players during a joint NFL-NFLPA review into the recent allegations that players 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 and NFLPA 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.”

The Buccaneers issued the following statement regarding the news: 

Last month, Brown’s former live-in chef, Steven Ruiz, claimed the receiver obtained a fake COVID-19 vaccination card so he could avoid NFL protocols.

Brown’s girlfriend, Cydney Moreau, told Ruiz in a text message this past July that Brown was willing to pay $500 for a Johnson & Johnson vaccination card. Ruiz says that Brown wanted Johnson & Johnson vaccine card because it consists of a single shot and would require less paperwork.

Ruiz said he was unable to get Brown a fake vaccination card. A few weeks later, Ruiz claims Brown showed him fake vaccination cards that he purchased for himself and Moreau.

Tom Brady‘s personal trainer, Alex Guerrero later stopped by Brown’s house the same night to help with Brown’s rehab from a knee injury and took a photograph of Brown’s vaccination card while he was there. The Bucs allowed Guerrero and others to take photos of cards and send them to head trainer Bobby Slater and eventually to their infection control officer.

Ruiz mentioned that he believes Guerrero was unaware that the card was fake.

Brown and Ruiz reportedly had a falling out over an uncollected debt of $10,000.

Brown, 33, is a former sixth-round pick of the Steelers back in 2010. He was in the third year of his five-year, $72.71 million contract when the Steelers traded him to the Raiders back in March. 

The Raiders later signed Brown to a new contract worth $50.125 million and includes $30.125 million guaranteed. However, Oakland made the decision to release Brown before the start of the season and he later signed a one-year deal worth up to $15 million with the Patriots.

Brown lasted just 11 days in New England. The Buccaneers signed him to a one-year deal worth up to $2.5 million last year and re-signed him to another one-year extension this offseason. 

In 2021, Brown has appeared in five games and recorded 29 receptions for 418 yards (14.4 YPC) and four touchdowns. 

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