The Tampa Bay Buccaneers said Thursday that the team received COVID-19 vaccination cards from all of their players. In a statement, the Bucs said every card received had been reviewed by team personnel and “no irregularities were observed.”
The Buccaneers’ comments followed a report published in The Tampa Bay Times that wide receiver Antonio Brown allegedly obtained a fake COVID-19 vaccine card, according to a former chef. The Times’ report cited an alleged text message exchange between Brown’s girlfriend and his former chef in which Brown’s girlfriend allegedly says that he is willing to pay $500 for a fake Johnson & Johnson vaccine card.
Brown’s former chef, Steven Ruiz, also says that Brown owes him an uncollected debt of $10,000, per The Times.
Brown’s attorney, Sean Burstyn, told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport on Thursday that Brown is vaccinated against COVID-19.
“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,” the Buccaneers said in a statement. “All vaccination cards were reviewed by Buccaneers personnel and no irregularities were observed.”
The NFL released to following statement on the Brown report: “We are aware of the report and have been in contact with the club. We will review the matter.”
Rapoport reported that teams are responsible for verifying personnel and player vaccination status. No team has reported any issues during the verification process, per Rapoport.
Any attempt by team personnel or players to use a forged or fake card — a federal criminal offense — would be reviewed under the league’s personal-conduct policy. Rapoport added that teams were instructed to scrutinize vaccination cards during a summer COVID-19 video conference as the use of fake cards is illegal and presents health and safety risks for the organization.
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians told reporters prior to the start of the 2021 NFL season that his team was 100 percent vaccinated.
The Bucs also hosted a clinic this past summer promoting vaccine accessibility.
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