Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown has been accused of owning fake Covid-19 vaccination cards in an attempt to usurp NFL protocols.
The accusations are made by Steven Ruiz, Brown’s former at-home chef in a Tampa Bay Times exclusive report.
The NFL’s Vice President of Communications Brian McCarthy told CNN, “We are aware of the report and have been in contact with the club. We will review the matter.”
According to the Times, Ruiz says Brown’s girlfriend asked Ruiz if he could obtain fake Johnson and Johnson vaccination cards and that Brown would pay him $500 for it. The Times showed a screenshot of the alleged text exchange from July between Ruiz and Brown’s girlfriend.
Weeks after Ruiz told Brown’s girlfriend Cydney Moreau that he was unable to obtain fake Covid-19 cards, Ruiz told the Times Brown showed him already obtained fake vaccination cards. Ruiz stated that Brown had concerns about the vaccine.
According to the Times, Ruiz says Brown owes him $10,000 and only spoke to the paper after they were unable to come to a settlement.
Brown’s attorney, Sean Burstyn, says the wide receiver is vaccinated.
Burstyn shared a statement to CNN also given to the Tampa Bay Times, “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.
“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.
“One of the worst parts of the pandemic has been a movement to cast doubt on our country’s vaccination programs with baseless, vindictive tabloid gossip.”
The Buccaneers also released a statement on Thursday regarding the Tampa Bay Times report but did not mention Brown by name.
The team said, “After an extensive educational process conducted throughout our organization this past offseason highlighting the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines, we received completed vaccination cards from all Tampa Bay Buccaneers players and submitted the required information to the NFL through the established process in accordance with league policy.
“All vaccination cards were reviewed by Buccaneers personnel and no irregularities were observed.”
Each of the 32 NFL clubs is responsible for verifying each player’s vaccination status.
McCarthy said “no club has reported any issues during the verification process” and that “any attempt by team personnel or players to use a forged or fake card would be reviewed under the personal conduct policy. In addition, it is a federal criminal offense.”