Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown has been suspended three games by the NFL for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols.
Brown — along with backup safety Mike Edwards and free-agent wide receiver John Franklin III — was found to have misrepresented his vaccination status.
“The health and safety of players and personnel is our top priority,” a joint NFL-NFLPA statement read. “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 suspension comes following the NFL’s investigation of Brown’s use of a fake vaccination card, which stemmed from a November Tampa Bay Times report.
According to the Times, Brown was able to obtain a fake vaccination card in July, after his former live-in-chef was unable to acquire one for Brown and his girlfriend.
As reported by ESPN, Brown received the COVID vaccine shortly after arriving at Bucs training camp, after he was informed that his fake vaccine card could get him in trouble.
“Mr. Brown is vaccinated and continues to support the vaccine for any person for whom it is appropriate,” said Sean Burstyn, Brown’s attorney, in a statement obtained by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. “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 most of this time by treating his ankle injury. Mr. Brown will be motivated, well rested, and in the best shape of his life when he returns in [W]eek 16.”
Brown has been out since week seven as he attempts to recover from an ankle injury, and was expected to miss Tampa Bay’s next two games before the suspension was handed down. Brown will not be paid during the three-game suspension.
“We appreciate 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,” the Buccaneers said in a statement Thursday.
Tampa Bay is attempting to be the first repeat Super Bowl champions since the 2003-2004 New England Patriots, a team quarterbacked by current Bucs quarterback Tom Brady.
Tampa Bay currently is in first place in the NFC South and sits at 8-3 on the season. They’ve won two straight games, including a come-from-behind victory in week twelve over the Indianapolis Colts. Tampa Bay visits the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Brown has played in five games this season, with 29 catches for 418 yards and four touchdowns.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.