Antonio Brown and two other players have been suspended by the NFL for violating the league's COVID-19 protocols. On Thursday, the league announced that the star wide receiver, his Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammate Mike Edwards and free agent John Franklin III have been suspended without pay for the next three games. For Franklin, he will be suspended if he signs with a team. All three players were being investigated for allegedly misrepresenting their vaccination status under the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols.
"The health and safety of players and personnel is our top priority," the NFL and NFLPA 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. The NFL-NFLPA jointly reinforce their commitment and further emphasize the importance of strict adherence to the protocols to protect the well-being of everyone associated with the NFL."
Brown, Edwards and Franklin will not appeal their suspensions. Brown and Edwards are eligible to return when the Buccaneers take on the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 26, according to ESPN. Currently, Brown was not expected to play in the next two games due to multiple injuries that have kept him out of action since Week 7.
Brown was accused by Chef Steven Ruiz that he had his girlfriend, Cydney Moreau, reach out to him over the summer to obtain a fake vaccination card. Ruiz wasn't able to acquire a fake card but discovered Brown bought one for himself and Moreau. Brown's attorney, Sean Burstyn said Brown is vaccinated and "continues to support the vaccine for any person for whom it is appropriate."
"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 and he will make this most of this time by treating his ankle injury," Burstyn said. "Mr. Brown will be motivated, well-rested, and in the best shape of his life when he returns in week 16."
Edwards plays safety for the Buccanneers and currently leads the team with three interceptions. He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week earlier in the season for tallying two pick-sixes in the Buccaneers' win against the Atlanta Falcons. Franklin, a wide receiver, played Buccaneers in 2019 and 2020.