The drama surrounding Aaron Rodgers and his unvaccinated status may have died down for him and the Packers, but it’s opened the door for many other NFL players to have their status called into question or revisited.
Earlier this week, New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco revealed that he is not currently vaccinated. And now comes news out of Tampa Bay that Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown used a fake vaccine card in order to avoid NFL protocols. The news was broken by the Tampa Bay Times.
EXCLUSIVE: Bucs receiver Antonio Brown obtained a fake COVID-19 vaccination card to avoid NFL protocols, according to his former live-in chef.
— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) November 18, 2021
According to the report by Rick Stroud, Brown’s girlfriend texted chef Steven Ruiz back in July to say that Brown was willing to pay $500 for a fake Johnson & Johnson vaccination card. He specifically wanted the J&J version because the single-shot vaccine would require less paperwork.
Brown and Ruiz would later have a falling out over unpaid debts and he spoke with the paper after the wide receiver refused to engage with him in a settlement discussion. The chef said that while he was unable to procure a card himself, he saw a fake vaccine card in Brown’s house two days before training camp started.
Brown’s lawyer told the Times that the player is, in fact, vaccinated. Before the team’s season opener, head coach Bruce Arians announced that the Bucs were “100 percent vaccinated,” including “every player, coach, and staff member.” Brown was infected with COVID-19 and missed the team’s game against the LA Rams.
Brown, his agent, and the Buccaneers would not speak with the Times for the story.
Given his history of poor decision-making and off-field issues, it didn’t take long for NFL folks on social media to chime in with their own thoughts on the matter.
Starting to think that Antonio Brown might not be the most upstanding guy in the NFL https://t.co/rmKLSqZT0x
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) November 18, 2021
— robertklemko (@RobertKlemko) November 18, 2021
Oh. Imagine that. https://t.co/zHKurxgLRj
— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) November 18, 2021
This is the most Antonio Brown thing ever. https://t.co/I9kkCw725X
— Michael Grant (@MichaelGrant_CJ) November 18, 2021
Brown is currently recovering from a foot injury suffered in mid-October. He is listed as questionable for this weekend’s game, though it’s unclear if the recent news will impact his return or any fines or suspensions he might face.
UPDATE: The Buccaneers have released a vaguely worded statement that effectively says they did what they were supposed to do and, as far as they are aware, Brown’s vaccination status is legitimate.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) November 18, 2021