Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown could be facing some serious trouble over an alleged use of a fake vaccination card, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
His former live-in chef, Steven Ruiz, is accusing Brown’s girlfriend of attempting to purchase fake vaccination cards. The article reports on a screenshot of a text from Brown’s girlfriend that included AB in it — a potential reference to Brown. Ruiz was unable to secure fake cards but Brown later showed him vaccination cards that Ruiz alleges were fake.
The Buccaneers reported a 100% COVID-19 vaccination rate in September. Brown later tested positive for COVID-19 and missed a Week 3 because of it. The Times points out that Brown went through the ten-day waiting period imposed on unvaccinated players who test positive. Vaccinated players are able to pass two consecutive COVID-19 tests 24 hours apart. It’s also possible he simply could not get the two positives in the ten-day span.
Brown and Ruiz had a falling out over an uncollected debt, according to the Times, with Ruiz alleging Brown owed him $10,000. Given Brown’s recent history with alleged unpaid debts, it is reasonable to believe he owes Ruiz this money. However, it is unclear if this allegation will be enough to lead to discipline with the league.
A player can face discipline for a fake card, but this would follow some kind of NFL investigation. The NFL has made teams responsible for verifying player vaccination status. Attempting to use a fake card could subject the player to discipline under the personal conduct policy.
The Times reports that Tom Brady’s personal trainer, Alex Guerrero took a picture of Brown’s allegedly fake card and sent it to Bucs head trainer Bobby Slater as proof of his vaccination. Ruiz does not believe Guerrero knew the card was fake.
Brown is currently sidelined with an ankle injury and not expected to play in Week 11 on Monday Night Football.
5:35 p.m. update: The Bucs released a statement about COVID-19 vaccination cards. They stated the organization received vaccination cards from all players and “[a]ll cards were reviewed by Buccaneers personnel and no irregularities were observed.