NFL suspends Antonio Brown, 2 others for misrepresenting COVID vaccination status
The National Football League (NFL) on Thursday suspended three players —Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown and safety Mike Edwards as well as former wide receiver John Franklin III — for violating COVID-related protocols.
Why it matters: The suspensions come after the NFL reviewed allegations that the players "misrepresented their vaccination status," and ultimately concluded that all three violated league protocols.
- Brown and Edwards have been suspended for three games without pay. Franklin, a free agent, is also ineligible to play in his next three games if signed by a club.
- The suspensions are effective immediately, and all players have accepted the discipline and waived their right of appeal, according to the league.
The backdrop: The league's investigation comes after the Tampa Bay Times reported last month that Brown had obtained a fake coronavirus vaccine card from his former live-in chef.
- Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians had previously said the entire organization — including players and coaches — was vaccinated, according to ESPN.
- The league has attempted to encourage players to get vaccinated by threatening forfeits, the loss of game checks if an outbreak occurs. Players would also be fined for breaking COVID-19 protocols.
What they're saying: "The health and safety of players and personnel is our top priority," the NFL and NFL Players Association said in a joint statement.
- "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."
- "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 Buccaneers said in a statement.
- "We will continue to implement all league COVID-19 protocols," it continued.
"Mr. Brown is vaccinated and continues to support the vaccine," Sean Burstyn, Brown's lawyer, said in a statement according 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," Burstyn added.