NFL insider Josina Anderson reported earlier on Thursday that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers believed there was "no evidence" to support a story published by Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times that says star wide receiver Antonio Brown allegedly used a fake COVID-19 vaccination card so he would be in compliance with NFL health and safety protocols without having to receive one of the safe and available vaccines.
The Buccaneers, NFL and Brown's attorney have since all responded.
"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 explained in a statement shared by the league's website. "All vaccination cards were reviewed by Buccaneers personnel and no irregularities were observed."
Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians confidently said in early September his entire organization was "100%" fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Via an official statement, the NFL said of Brown: "We are aware of the report and have been in contact with the club. We will review the matter."
The Tampa Bay Times published information offered by Brown's former chef, Steven Ruiz, who says the Super Bowl champion owes him $10,000. Brown's attorney, Sean Burstyn, previously responded that his client is vaccinated and reiterated that claim to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:
Spoke with Antonio Brown’s attorney Sean Burstyn, who maintains that Brown is, in fact, vaccinated. He said, “Be like Antonio brown and get the vaccine.” https://t.co/VogdCgFZ93— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 18, 2021
Using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card could ultimately be considered a federal criminal offense and, to a lesser extent, a violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy.
Brown missed one September game after he tested positive for the coronavirus and hasn't played since he injured his ankle on Oct. 14. It's unclear if he could face a suspension if he's found guilty of using a fake or doctored vaccination card.