NFL to probe Bucs’ Antonio Brown for reported fake vaccination card

The NFL is aware of a report claiming wide receiver Antonio Brown obtained a fake COVID-19 vaccine card, is in contact with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and reviewing the matter, a league spokesman told UPI on Friday.

Brown’s former chef told the Tampa Bay Times earlier this week that Brown obtained the fake card. His attorney, Sean Burstyn, told the Washington Post, NFL Network and ESPN on Thursday that Brown is vaccinated.

The Buccaneers said they found no “irregularities” when team personnel reviewed vaccine cards for players and staff members. The team said this off-season that all players and staff members are vaccinated.

Burstyn told the Post that he spoke to Brown after the report was published Thursday and asked if he was vaccinated. Brown said he received his vaccine at a drive-through vaccination site.

Brown could face significant punishment from the NFL if he is found to have obtained or used a fake card. The matter will be reviewed under the league’s personnel conduct policy.

The creation of a fake vaccine card also is a federal crime.

“We are aware of the report and have been in contact with the club,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Friday. “We will review the matter.”

NFL teams are responsible for verifying personnel and player vaccination status. Those individuals are required to present the cards to club medical personnel for verification.

No NFL team reported any issues during the verification process. Many players, personnel and family members were administered shots at team facilities.

“If Antonio’s doctors and the guidelines require a booster shot, then at that time, he’ll be happy to do it live on TV and everyone can come watch,” Burstyn told ESPN.

Brown, 33, is in his second season with the Buccaneers. The seven-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time All-Pro missed the team’s last three games with an ankle injury. He did not practice Thursday.

Brown was suspended for the first eight games of last season due to a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy. He signed a one-year contract with the Buccaneers in April and is scheduled to hit free agency next off-season.

The Buccaneers (6-3) host the New York Giants (3-6) at 8:15 p.m. EST Monday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

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