Turns out the chef was telling the truth! Bucs’ wide receiver Antonio Brown has been suspended by the NFL for three games without pay after “misrepresenting” his COVID vaccination status to the league.
He’s joined in suspension by Tampa Bay safety Mike Edwards and by free agent John Franklin III. Despite a statement from Brown’s lawyer claiming that he is vaccinated and is choosing not to appeal this decision because of the “drawn out and distracting process,” we can probably assume that Brown’s suspension has something to do with the accusation from his in-home chef that he had sought out a fake vaccination card and sent a photo of the fake card to the NFL. The details of Edwards’ and Franklin’s suspensions are not yet publicly available, but the common thread between them seems to be that they misrepresented their vaccination statuses to the NFL. None of the three are going to appeal the penalty.
So for those of you wondering why Aaron Rodgers had to pay what amounted to pocket change while Brown, Franklin, and Edwards have to sit out on games, the answer is this: the NFL knew about Rodgers’ vaccination status. It’s not required for NFL players to be vaccinated. There are different protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated players, and the three most recently discovered fabricators likely didn’t want to have to deal with the more stringent protocols. It’s also a violation of federal law to create and use a fake vaccine card, so if that is in fact what happens, suspension may not be the largest of Brown & Co.’sworries at the moment.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the vaccine card was “real” but the information was “wrong,” which we’re taking to mean that he got his hands on a legitimate card but filled out false information. Any meaningful difference from a forged vaccine card in that statement or in subsequent legal penalties is unclear.
The protocols for unvaccinated players include eating separately from the team, staying in the team hotel while on road trips, and submitting to more frequent testing than vaccinated players. What I find most curious in this whole situation is that while the NFL and the Packers purportedly knew about Rodgers’ vaccination status (and subsequently knew that he had lied to the media), they didn’t ever step in when he didn’t follow press conference regulations for unvaccinated players. Apparently, the NFL is fine with rule-breaking as long as they’re in on it.