Vaxgate: Antonio Brown & Mike Edwards Suspended in Wake of Allegations That Brown Submitted Fake Vax Card to Bucs

NFL: New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Today the National Football League announced the discipline of three players for misrepresenting their COVID vaccination status to the league. Two of those three players are on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Antonio Brown & DB Mike Edwards. The third player is free-agent cornerback John Franklin III. While the league did not release specifics, Mark Maske from The Washington Post is reporting on Twitter that a source says all three players initially submitted fake vaccination cards but are all now vaccinated.

This news comes not long after the Tampa Bay Times reported that Brown’s former live-in chef, Steven Ruiz, alleged that Brown’s girlfriend, Cydney Moreau, told him that Brown was willing to pay him $500 for a fake vaccine card. The NFL has since questioned Ruiz on the matter, which only took ten minutes according to him. After having failed to obtain the fake cards, Ruiz claimed that Antonio Brown allegedly showed him fake vaccine cards he had purchased for himself.

League of Justice was the first and only mainstream news outlet to report on the possibility of Vaxgate, a larger alleged scheme that involved multiple players misrepresenting their vaccine status to the league with fake cards. The report came when LOJ spotted a tweet from Reporter Adam Beasley saying that rumors had been circulating in football circles in Florida that Brown had allegedly offered to hook up other teammates with his fake vax card supplier. Citing anonymous sources tied to the league, Beasley said he couldn’t publish the report because he couldn’t fully substantiate the claims. Brown’s attorney denied the allegations on his behalf.

League of Justice asked why the NFL was not investigating the allegations that Brown had submitted a fake vaccine card and supplied teammates with access to his alleged fake vax card hookup? An investigation would make sense, especially in light of the fall out from the Aaron Rodgers vaccination scandal. Rodgers had said he was “immunized” when asked if he had received the vaccine and in fact he had not received it. Rodgers later tested positive for COVID-19.

In fact, the league was investigating the allegations against Brown and released a statement today saying that its investigation confirmed that the vaccination status of the now suspended players, including Brown, was misrepresented by them to the league. The league would not give further specifics. However, another Bucs player, Edwards, has been suspended as well. The question remains over whether fake vaccine cards were in fact submitted to the league and whether Brown shared his alleged fake vaccine card hookup with Edwards.

The Bucs had initially released a statement saying, “All vaccination cards were reviewed by Buccaneers personnel and no irregularities were observed.”

Today the team was singing a different tune and expressing appreciation to the League for its timely handling of the matter in recognizing the importance of the health and safety protocols that have been established.

In response to the suspension, Antonio Brown’s lawyer, Sean Burstyn, released a statement regarding his client: “Mr. 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 the most of this time by treating his ankle injury. Mr. Brown will be motivated, and well rested, and in the best shape of his life when he returns in week 16.” 

DB Mike Edwards, safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who now has 3 INTs on the year, is coming off a 38-31 comeback win against the Indianapolis Colts where he played a role in creating another one of several turnovers for the Buccaneers defense via Forced Fumble. Now, this puts a strain on an already thin Buccaneers secondary against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, December 5, 2021.