Bucs WR Antonio Brown accused of obtaining a fake vaccination card
Tampa, Florida. A Los Angeles chef told a newspaper that Antonio Brown had received a fake COVID-19 vaccination card, that the player owed him $10,000.
The Tampa Bay Times reported Thursday that Stephen Ruiz gave the newspaper a screenshot of a July 2 text message exchange, in which Brown’s girlfriend asked the former home-cook chef if he could get the player’s Johnson & Johnson vaccination cards.
When the personal chef replied he could try, the friend replied “Dad said he’d give you $500.”
Ruiz, who also claimed that Brown owed him an uncollected debt of $10,000, told the newspaper that he had not been able to find a vaccination card for Brown.
The chef added that a few weeks later he noticed two vaccination cards on the dining room table that the recipient told him had been purchased for the player and his girlfriend.
The Buccaneers announced shortly before the start of the regular season that their entire roster and coaching staff had been fully vaccinated.
The ruling Super Bowl champion released a one-paragraph statement in response to the newspaper’s report.
“Following an extensive educational process that was conducted throughout our organization outside last season to highlight the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines, we received completed vaccination cards from all Tampa Bay Buccaneers players and provided the required information to the NFL through the process established as per the league policy,” read the statement. “All vaccination cards have been reviewed by the hacker’s staff and no irregularities have been noted.”
The NFL’s vice president of communications, Brian McCarthy, said the league was aware of the report and was in contact with the NFL team.
“We’ll review it,” McCarthy said.
Brown, who did not train on Thursday, missed last month with an ankle injury. He also missed one game in September (losing the road to the Los Angeles Rams) after testing positive for COVID-19.
Tampa Bay 5-0 in the games Brown has played this season, 1-3 in the ones he has missed.
Clubs are responsible for checking the vaccination status of individuals and players, with individuals required to present their vaccination cards to the team’s medical staff for verification.
No club reported any problems during the verification process. In many cases, individuals, players and their family members were given shots at the club’s facilities.
Any attempt by team members or players to use a fraudulent or counterfeit card is subject to review under the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.
This topic was brought up by the league on July 22 as part of a series of 32 club COVID-19 video meetings conducted prior to training camp.
Teams have been instructed to check cards when presented because the use of a counterfeit card threatens the health and safety of the entire club, is a federal criminal offense and the individual will be subject to potential league discipline.
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