Tampa Bay Bucs receiver Antonio Brown isn’t exactly known for making sound decisions—especially when it comes to sexual assault, amongst a myriad of other allegations—so it should come as absolutely no surprise that according to the Tampa Bay Times, he’s now being accused of obtaining a fake COVID-19 vaccine card. Because of course, he is.
ESPN can explain this debacle way better than I can, so I’ll happily allow them to do so:
The Times reported Thursday that, according to Steven Ruiz—a former personal chef for the wide receiver—Brown had his girlfriend, model Cydney Moreau, reach out to Ruiz over the summer to obtain a fake vaccination card that said Brown had received the Johnson & Johnson shot. According to text messages provided by Ruiz, Moreau offered $500 for a fake card.
Ruiz said he was unable to acquire a fake card for Brown, according to the report, but he added that the wide receiver a few weeks later showed him ones he had for himself and Moreau that he said he had purchased. Brown reportedly was unwilling to get the vaccine because of possible side effects.
Ruiz said he went public with the accusation after Brown failed to pay $10,000 owed to him, according to the Times.
To validate his claim, Ruiz was even kind enough to provide a screenshot of his text exchange with Moreau to the Times.
In a statement to the Times, Brown’s lawyer, Sean Burstyn, denied these claims and insisted that his client is vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Antonio Brown appreciates the severity of the pandemic, which is why he got the vaccine and supports everyone for whom it is advisable to get the vaccine,” Burstyn wrote. “Coronavirus has hit close to home as it took him out of a game. He is healthy, vaccinated, and ready to win another Super Bowl.”
In a separate statement to ESPN, Burstyn doubled down on Brown’s vaccination status and even offered to resolve the matter publicly.
“If Antonio’s doctors and the guidelines require a booster shot, then at that time, he’ll be happy to do it live on TV and everyone can come watch,” he said.
And because I’m sure you’re wondering what the Bucs have to say about all of this, the team maintains that it’s “received completed vaccination cards from all Tampa Bay Buccaneers players” and that “all vaccination cards were reviewed by Buccaneers personnel and no irregularities were observed.”
It’s important to note that while the NFL doesn’t require players to get vaccinated, those that aren’t are required to abide by an entirely different set of rules in order to protect the health and safety of other players and team personnel—which is exactly why Aaron Rodgers lied about being vaccinated until he contracted COVID-19 and couldn’t keep his vaccination status a secret any longer.
In speaking with ESPN, NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said league representatives were “aware of the report and have been in contact with the club. We will review the matter.” If it’s discovered that Brown did purchase a fake vaccine card, he would be subject to both the league’s personal conduct policy and whatever federal punishments apply, since it’s a whole-ass criminal offense to run around with a fake vaccine card.