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Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Photo: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

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.

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.

Go deeper

Nashville police starting activities group for youths

Police chief John Drake. Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP

Police chief John Drake is creating a new division that he says expands on the most rewarding part of his 34-year career in the department.

  • The "Police Activities League" will oversee athletics and other programming for young people, according to the department.
Updated 6 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker