According to his former live-in chef, Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown obtain a counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination card to circumvent NFL rules and regulations.
An SMS from Brown’s girlfriend, model Cydney Moreau, to Los Angeles chef Steven Ruiz on July 2 said Brown was willing to pay $ 500 if the chef could get a Johnson & Johnson vaccination card for her boyfriend.
“Can you get the COVID cards?” Moreau sent an SMS to Ruiz on July 2, according to a screenshot Moreau gave to the Tampa Bay Times.
“I can try,” Ruiz replied.
Moreau continued, “JNJ fired. Ab said he would give you $ 500.
In the textual discussion between Moreau and Ruiz, Brown is not specifically mentioned by name. AB is a nickname his friends, coaches and teammates have given to the wide receiver.
Ruiz claimed that Brown wanted the Johnson & Johnson vaccination card as it is the only vaccine that consists of a single shot and requires less documentation.
Allegedly, the relationship between Brown and Ruiz soured over an unpaid debt. Ruiz, the owner of Taste ThatLA, claims he owes $ 10,000. Ruiz felt he was being forced to express his aggressions against Brown in public after his talks with Brown’s attorney went nowhere.
Ruiz told Brown he could not get a fake vaccination card for Brown in July. Brown allegedly told individuals around him at the time that he was concerned about the vaccine’s possible harmful effects on his body. Weeks later, Ruiz claimed Brown had shown him his fake vaccination cards that Brown had bought for himself and his girlfriend. Ruiz says that interaction took place a few days before the Bucs training camp in Brown’s dining room.
While a personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, was at the Brown residence to help Brown recover from his knee surgery, Guerrero took a photo of Brown’s vaccination card.
To document the list of vaccinated players as soon as possible, the Buccaneers would sometimes have Guerrero or others in the organization photograph the cards, which would then be sent to head coach Bobby Slater and eventually to their infection control officer.
Ruiz believes Guerrero was not aware that the card was a forgery when he took the photo.
Guerrero did not respond to a request for comment from the Tampa Bay Times.
Brown’s immunization status is definitely questioned to be true because of Ruiz’s bomb story.
Brown’s attorney, on the other hand, ruled in a statement to the New York Times on Thursday afternoon that Brown was vaccinated.
“Antonio Brown appreciates the severity of the pandemic, and therefore he received the vaccine and he supports everyone for whom it is advisable to get the vaccine,” Sean Burstyn texted. “Coronavirus hit near the house when it took him out of a game. He is healthy, vaccinated and ready to win another Super Bowl. “
Burstyn further defended Brown, saying: “One of the worst parts of the pandemic was a move to call into question our country’s vaccination programs with unfounded, vengeful tabloid children.”
The Buccaneers refused to make Brown available for an interview with the New York Times. Officials from the Buccaneers and Brown’s agent did not comment on the story. In addition, Brown did not respond to messages left on his cellphone during the course of the investigation.
According to Brian McCarthy, a spokesman for the NFL, individual teams is responsible for confirming the immunization status of their employees and players. Players are required to hand over their cards to the club’s medical staff or the infection control officer when requested. Any attempt by team employees or players to use a forged card will be evaluated under the terms of the personal conduct policy, and the individual concerned may face disciplinary action as a result. In addition, the creation, use and / or sale of such cards is a crime punishable by fines of up to five years in prison.
Brown, who was involved in a violent physical encounter after a bill dispute early last year, was already the target of recent NFL investigation. His suspension for the first eight games of the 2020 season was imposed by the league due to several violations of the league’s personal rules and policies.
Six days before the Buccaneers’ season opener on September 9, coach Bruce Arians is proud declare that his club is “100 percent vaccinated”, which included “every player, coach and staff member”.
Over the course of the season, Brown became one of only a few Tampa Bay players to pick up COVID-19, and he consequently had to miss one game – the Bucs’ Week 3 game in Los Angeles against the Rams.
Asymptomatic players who have received the vaccine and passed two COVID-19 tests within 24 hours may return to work. Brown, on the other hand, is subject to the same 10-day suspension imposed on unvaccinated athletes who test positive for the virus.
According to an agreement reached between the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association, unvaccinated players must adhere to a long list of strict rules imposed by the league, which include social distance and wearing a mask at all times. One of the many rules includes one that obliges the weight room capacity to be 15 players or less.
The NFL does not hold back when it comes to punishing clubs and players who do not comply with COVID regulations. The Green Bay Packers were fine $ 300,000 on November 9 for failing to enforce league regulations regarding its players. Two Green Bay Packers, fullback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Allen Lazard, were each fined $ 14,650 for not getting their COVID shots.