Earlier in the football season, there was speculation bubbling about players getting their hands on fake COVID vaccination cards.
But there wasn’t a full-blown accusation until a report claiming Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown obtained a fake COVID-19 vaccination card in an attempt to avoid NFL protocols. The Bucs said everything was on the up-and-up in November, claiming they found no irregularities in what was given to them by Brown. And Brown’s attorney went on to tell NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport that Brown was vaccinated.
However, that isn’t where the story ends:
#Bucs WR Antonio Brown and Mike Edwards have each been suspended without pay for the next three games for misrepresenting their vaccination status under the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 Protocol. They have accepted the discipline and waived their right of appeal.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 2, 2021
Rapoport reports Brown and teammate Mike Edwards are getting three-game suspensions (without pay!) for “misrepresenting their vaccination status.”
Wow! So maybe that fake vaccination card situation did have legs.
And while they had an option to appeal, both Brown and Edwards declined the opportunity to do so. In turn, both will sit out the next three games. Brown hasn’t been playing due to an ankle injury, and hasn’t seen the playing field since Week 6 against the Eagles. Edwards, a defensive back, has played in 11 games (3 starts), has three interceptions, and a pair of defensive touchdowns. These are serious losses for the Bucs. But perhaps the most important thing to come from this is the actually putting its foot down. And with real punishments, too. Making it known there are consequences to the actions of attempting to skirt the league’s COVID protocols.
You know, unlike the light slap-of-the-wrist that came down in the Aaron Rodgers-Packers situation.
Admittedly, Brown going through the effort of getting a fake card is probably a worse offense than Rodgers lying to the media. But misrepresenting vaccination status happened in both occasions. The sliding scale of punishments seems a bit off, especially when considering the precedent set in the Rodgers case. Nevertheless, the NFL is getting around to firing warning shots at those who think they can bypass the collectively bargained rules. Better late than never, I guess.