Three professional football players, including star Tampa Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown, will be suspended three games by the National Football League (NFL) for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols.
According to an NFL press release, the three suspended players are Brown and teammate, safety Mike Edwards, as well as former Buccaneers practice squad member and current free agent John Franklin III.
All three players misrepresented their vaccination status under the NFL and the NFL’s Players Association (NFLPA) COVID-19 protocols. An NFL-NFLPA review revealed that they violated the protocols.
The suspensions start immediately. In the case of Franklin, when he signs with a team, he will have to serve the three games before playing.
In a joint statement, the NFL and NFLPA said: “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 also released a statement pertaining to the suspensions: “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 investigation into the players started last month when the Tampa Bay Times reported that, according to Brown’s former personal chef, Steven Ruiz, Brown’s girlfriend, Cydney Moreau, contacted him over the summer to get Brown a fake vaccination card for $500. He wanted the bogus card to serve as proof that he received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Ruiz provided proof via text messages of the communication between him and Moreau. He was also offered $500 for the fake card.