As soon as the Tampa Bay Times released their report that Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown had reportedly tried to acquire a fake vaccine card before the start of the NFL season, the league was going to bring down the hammer in some form.

While Bucs coach Bruce Arians defended Brown, the league quickly announced that they were going to review the matter. Review the matter they have.

The NFL announced Thursday that it had suspended Brown, as well as Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards and free-agent wide receiver John Franklin III, who had been on the Tampa Bay practice squad. Each player was suspended for three games without pay for violating the joint NFL-NFL Players Association COVID-19 protocols.

According to the statement, all three players have foregone their rights to appeal the decision and begin serving their suspensions immediately. That means the soonest Brown and Edwards can return for Tampa Bay would be their Week 16 game against the Panthers on December 26. Brown was expected to be out for the next two weeks as he recovers from an ankle injury.

According to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, the Buccaneers were not fined by the league and did assist in the investigation.

As soon as the news was announced, there seemed to be a strong sentiment on social media to understand why Brown was suspended for presumably lying about his vaccination status while Aaron Rodgers did not receive a suspension despite misleading people about his status. The difference may be that Rodgers’ status was actually known to the NFL while Brown tried to dupe the league, but that may not sway the public.

Some people also noted that none of this would have happened had Brown taken care of the private chef who leaked the story to the Tampa Bay Times when he wasn’t paid for his services.

And other still noted that Brown cost himself three NFL game checks over the suspension, which doesn’t seem to justify the effort to avoid getting vaccinated, which is free.

For what it’s worth, Brown’s agent released a statement saying that Brown is currently vaccinated but also accepts his punishment from the league. So read into that, and what’s left unsaid, however you like.

[NFL]

About Sean Keeley

Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and many other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.