The NFL has suspended three players without pay for misrepresenting their vaccine status, the league announced Thursday. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown, his teammate Mike Edwards and free agent John Franklin III will each miss their next three games, the league said.
The suspension comes after players were accused of having “misrepresented their vaccination status” under the league’s COVID-19 protocols, sparking a review by the league and the player’s association, the league said in a statement.
“That review supported those allegations and found that the three players violated the protocols,” the league said. All three players have accepted their suspension and declined to appeal, according to the NFL.
“The health and safety of players and personnel is our top priority,” the league and the players association said in a joint statement. “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.”
The suspension comes weeks after Brown’s private chef told The Tampa Bay Times that the wide receiver bought fake vaccination cards for himself and his girlfriend. CBS News has not confirmed that reporting.
Brown’s attorney told NFL Network that he is vaccinated, and that he “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,” the lawyer said, according to the outlet.
The Buccaneers said the team appreciates the league’s “timely handling of this matter” and that it recognizes “the importance of the health and safety protocols that have been established.”