Antonio Brown and his Buccaneers teammate, safety Mike Edwards, have been suspended for the next three games without pay over misrepresenting their vaccination status under NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols, the league announced Thursday.
Brown, recently accused of acquiring a fake COVID vaccine card by his former chef, has accepted the discipline and waived his right to an appeal, in addition to Edwards.
Free agent receiver John Franklin III was also suspended and, if signed by a team, will be barred from playing in the next three games.
“The health and safety of players and personnel is our top priority. The protocols were jointly developed working with our respective experts to ensure that we are practicing and playing football as safely as possible during the ongoing pandemic,” the NFL and NFLPA said in a joint statement. “The NFL and NFLPA jointly reinforce their commitment and further emphasize the importance of strict adherence to the protocols to protect the well-being of everyone associated with the NFL.”
Brown, in his second year with the Buccaneers, was accused last month of obtaining a former COVID-19 vaccination card from an unnamed teammate.Antonio Brown will miss the next three games after the NFL found he misrepresented his COVID-19 vaccination status.CSM/Sipa USA
“Mr. Brown is vaccinated and continues to support the vaccine for any person for whom it is appropriate,” Brown’s lawyer, Sean Burstyn, said in a statement to NFL Network. “The NFL made its determination and, instead of going through the drawn out and distracting process of challenging the outcome, Mr. Brown wrapped this up promptly and he will make this [sic] most of this time by treating his ankle injury. Mr. Brown will be motivated, well rested, and in the best shape of his life when he returns in week 16.”
In response to Thursday’s news, the Buccaneers addressed the ruling in a statement.
“We appreciate the League’s timely handling of this matter and recognize the importance of the health and safety protocols that have been established,” the team said. “We will continue to implement all league COVID-19 protocols.”
Brown previously missed a game in September after testing positive for COVID-19. He had also been out since Oct. 14 due to a foot injury.