Bucs' WR Antonio Brown accused of trying to fake vaccine status
Personal chefs, payoffs and fake vaccine cards. It's been quite a time for the wide receiver
As the NFL tightens the grip on covid-19 protocols it seems not everyone got the memo.
Bucs' Antonio Brown allegedly tried to fake vaccine status
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Antonio Brown - wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - is alleged to have acquired a false covid-19 vaccination card. On Thursday The Times reported that Brown's former personal chef, Steven Ruiz, gave an account of a situation involving the wide receiver's girlfriend. According to Ruiz, Brown's partner, model Cydney Moreau, contacted him during the summer on Brown's behalf with the intention of obtaining a fake vaccination card for reception of the Johnson & Johnson shot. According to text messages provided by Ruiz, Moreau offered $500 for a fake card.
Clarifying the events, Ruiz stated that in the end he was unable to acquire a fake card for Brown. Ruiz, however, went on to say that he was contacted by Brown a few weeks later at which time the Bucs' player showed him vaccination cards for both himself and Moreau which he was able to purchase.
The Bucs are clear but is Antonio Brown?
According to sources Brown was always reluctant to get vaccinated, citing a fear of possible side effects. With that in mind it is unclear as to whethere or not the player has in fact been vaccinated. In response to the piece by the Times, the Buccaneers gave a statement saying they had "received completed vaccination cards from all Tampa Bay Buccaneers players." The statement added "All vaccination cards were reviewed by Buccaneers personnel and no irregularities were observed," the team said. Brown's legal representative Sean Burstyn flatly denied Ruiz's claims.
"Antonio Brown appreciates the severity of the pandemic, which is why he got the vaccine and supports everyone for whom it is advisable to get the vaccine," Burstyn texted the newspaper. "Coronavirus has hit close to home as it took him out of a game. He is healthy, vaccinated, and ready to win another Super Bowl." Burnstyn went on to add that "One of the worst parts of thepandemic has been a movement to cast doubt on our country's vaccination programs with baseless, vindictive tabloid gossip."
Brown's situation and the NFL's position
According to The Times, Brown's partner Cydney Moreau denied the accusations, adding that she did not know who Ruiz was. Meanwhile, Brown has continues his absence. Inititally he was sidelined in Week 3 - after testing positive for covid-19 - when the Bucs lost to the Los Angeles Rams, then he was sidelined with an ankle injury that has kept him out out since.
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The NFL of course has not let the situation go under the radar. League spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in a statement that the NFL was "aware of the report and have been in contact with the club. We will review the matter." In context, McCarthy has previously stated that an attempt to falsify a vaccine card would result in any individual being disciplined under the league's personal conduct policy. There is, however, the possibility that Brown could face a serious legal issue should he be found to have used a fake card.