Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown was suspended for three games on Thursday for violating league Covid-19 protocols and distorting his vaccination status, the NFL said.
Two other players were also suspended.
Brown and Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards has been suspended without pay for the next three games, the NFL said in a statement. Free agent John Franklin III, if signed by the team, is also ineligible to play in the next three games.
The players have “accepted the discipline and waived their right of appeal,” the NFL said, adding: “The suspensions are effective immediately.”
The athletes were represented by the players’ union, the NFL Players Association, which conducted the joint review with the NFL of the allegations that they “distorted their vaccination status under NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols,” says the statement, adding: “This review supported these allegations and revealed that all three players had violated protocols.”
The NFL and NFLPA said in a joint statement, “The health and safety of players and staff is our top priority. The protocols have been developed jointly with our respective experts to ensure that we practice and play football in the safest way possible during the current pandemic. The NFL-NFLPA jointly strengthen their commitment and further emphasize the importance of strict adherence to protocols to protect the well-being of all people associated with the NFL.
Brown’s attorney, Sean Burstyn, said his client had been vaccinated.
“Mr. Brown is vaccinated and continues to support the vaccine for anyone for whom it is suitable,” Burstyn said Thursday after the suspension. “The NFL has made their decision and, instead of going through the tedious and distracting process of contesting the result, Mr. Brown came to this quickly and he will use that time to treat his ankle injury.”
Brown has been out for several weeks with an ankle injury.
The NFL said last month it was investigating a report that Brown obtained a fake Covid-19 vaccination card to evade league protocols.
“We are aware of the report and have been in contact with the club,” said an NFL spokesperson. “We will look into the matter. ”
Burstyn denied the allegations last month.
“Mr. Brown has confirmed to me that he is vaccinated and, if a booster does eventually become advisable, he will be happy to broadcast it live on TV,” he said. “He is happy to do so. an opportunity to advocate for vaccine safety and finds it a bit confusing that the source of this story admits to attempting to obtain and resell fake immunization cards. “
Brown’s vaccination status has been called into question after the Green Bay Packers were fined $ 300,000 for violations of the Covid protocol. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Allen Lazard were also fined $ 14,650 each for attending a Halloween party without being vaccinated.
Brown’s behavior off the pitch has grabbed headlines in recent years.
In January 2020, he was charged with assaulting a truck driver outside his home in Hollywood, Florida. He was charged with burglary with assault, break and enter and criminal mischief. Brown did not plead any dispute and was sentenced to two years of probation. He was also ordered to undergo a psychological assessment and take an anger management course.
Brown was also charged with sexual assault by his former coach Britney Taylor in a 2019 lawsuit. Brown denied the allegations and counterattacked Taylor; a settlement was reached in April.
Marlene Lenthang contributed.