With Tampa Bay Buccaneers players Antonio Brown, Mike Edwards, and John Franklin suspended three games for misrepresenting their COVID-19 vaccination status, many raised an interesting but fair point. Why was Antonio Brown suspended and Aaron Rodgers just fined?
A month ago, the Green Bay Packers quarterback tested positive for COVID and had to quarantine for a minimum of 10 days. Even though he told the media and the public he was “immunized,” having to be out 10 days was the hint that Rodgers wasn’t actually vaccinated. And then came the Pat McAfee interview and the toe thing and well…here we are.
Both situations seem similar on the surface. No doubt both people tried to lie and manipulate others about their vaccination status though Rodgers was only fined a little over $14k (with the Packers were fined $300k) while Brown, Edwards, and Franklin got suspended three games without pay. When it’s that stark of a difference, that is naturally going to raise some questions.
The key point that largely spared Rodgers was that he didn’t lie to the people who matter. And by “people who matter,” I’m talking about the Packers and the NFL.
While Rodgers attempted to lawyer his way into convincing the public he was vaccinated and avoid perjuring himself in the court of public opinion, he didn’t try to pull that on the Packers and the NFL. Both were aware that “immunized” didn’t mean “vaccinated,” and Rodgers followed the same protocols that unvaccinated people are supposed to follow. Well, the protocols that didn’t result in the public realizing the jig was up, like having to wear a mask in press conferences.
For Brown, he tried fooling the Buccaneers and by extension the NFL with his status. Brown was accused of having a fake vaccination card and claiming he was vaccinated when he really wasn’t. The Buccaneers would’ve had plausible deniability that they didn’t know Brown’s actual unvaccinated status. Also, if Brown had a fake vaccination card, that would be illegal.
Rodgers’ scandal was arguably more damaging PR wise for the NFL but that’s not the criteria punishments are based on. Rodgers and Brown might have a similar vaccination status but as history shows, when it comes to Roger Goodell, the lie is worse than the crime. That’s why Antonio Brown is sitting for three games without pay.