Bucs' Bruce Arians wants the NFL to look at other teams.
In the wake of three of his players being suspended for falsification of their vaccine status, the coach believes the scenario isn't unique to his team.
In a week that saw three Bucs' players suspended for falsifying their covid-19 vaccination satus, the team's head coach wants to see further investigation.
Buc's Asrians wants the scales balanced
On Friday, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians stated that he would like to see the NFL take a closer look at other teams and their vaccination statuses. Arians comments came after seeing two of his players - Antonio Brown and Mike Edwards - along with one former player, John Franklin III, receive suspensions having been found guilty of providing fake vaccination cards. Indeed Arians was adamant that the fault was not with the franchise. "We've done everything. There's a lot more to that story. I just hope they don't stop looking," he said. It was just two weeks ago that the coach stated that he had no reason to believe Brown or any player falsified their vaccination status.
“I just hope they don’t stop looking,” Bruce Arians said of the league’s investigations into COVID-[19 vaccination cards. When asked if he thought there were more abuses in the league he said “Maybe.l— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) December 3, 2021
After an official NFL investigation it was later revealed that the three players had in fact falsified their vaccine status with the use of fake vaccination cards. The result was a three-game suspension. It should also be noted that using a fake vaccine card is a federal which can carry a penalty of up to five years in prison. Asked if he believed there were similar scenarios playing out in other teams, Arians was short but clear as he simply said, "maybe."
What's the NFL's position
According to ESPN the NFL has no intention to alter how teams collect and inspect the vaccination cards of players. As was reported, of the 94.5% of players who are vaccinated, 80% were vaccinated at team facilities, which in turn further increases the impracticality of changes. According to league spokesperson Brian McCarthy, it is through the present structure that the potential risk for falsification has been minimized.
For more from the NFL
As it stands the NFL will continue to defer to the testing and vetting framework of the various teams. Interestingly, the NFL did not actually fine the Buccaneers, which is in direct contrast to similar scenarios that resulted in heavy fines for covid-19 violations. The Las Vegas Raiders faced a $500,000 fine last year as well as the Green Bay Packers who recently were sanctioned to the tune of $300,000 after it appeared that some of their players falsified their vaccination statuses.
Bruce Arians pushes back
Speaking on the sanctions and the NFL's position, Arians was clear about what he felt. "In the last two years, I don't know if there's been a team better at covid-19 than we've been. This is a setback because of what happened. But we have done an amazing job, and even when the guys we have never had an outbreak in a position room. So I'm very happy with that part."
Arians went on to add that he was indeed angry about the players' actions, especially when the team had gone to great lengths to keep the virus out of the building. Ironically the Bucs' mantra during the last season was "beat the virus," moreover the franchise has for quite some time credited it's handling of the virus as a central reason behind their Super Bowl winning season.
Video: Bruce Arians says he won’t discuss Antonio Brown or Mike Edwards until after their three-game suspensions are over. “We move on.” pic.twitter.com/uuZD3WbLvL— Greg Auman (@gregauman) December 3, 2021
For further context behind the embarrassing situation, Tampa Bay even received praise from President Joe Biden during a ceremony at the White House during the past summer, with the president citing their handling of the virus which incidentally also saw 200,000 members of the community vaccinated. "It pisses me off," Arians said. "But it is what it is," said Arians. The Bucs' coach also clarified what the present situation was with the suspended players saying that both will be treated as injured. Their futures will not be a topic of discussion until they return to the team. As it stands Brown specifically is due to miss at least another two weeks with an ankle injury, while Edwards is struggling with a knee issue.
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