Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians announced prior to the season that every player on the roster, along with the entire coaching staff and other team staffers, had been vaccinated.
However, that claim has come into question in a report from Tampa Bay Times reporter Rick Stroud, who has text messages from a former private chef of Antonio Brown’s that alleges the wide receiver attempted to get a fake vaccination card prior to the season in order to avoid the NFL’s protocols for unvaccinated players. According to Steven Ruiz, Brown’s girlfriend, Cydney Moreau, texted him on July 2 with a request for a fake vaccination card for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and provided Stroud with a screenshot of the messages.
“Can you get the COVID cards?” Moreau texted Ruiz on July 2, according to a screen grab he provided to the Tampa Bay Times.
“I can try,” Ruiz responded.
“JNJ shot. Ab said he would give you $500,” Moreau texted.
Ruiz said he wasn’t able to obtain the cards for Brown and Moreau, but that Brown later showed him two fake vaccination cards for he and Moreau, which were then provided to the Bucs to allow Brown to participate fully as a vaccinated individual. According to Ruiz, Tom Brady’s trainer Alex Guerrero took the photos of the cards to send to the Bucs while at Brown’s house to provide treatment, but Ruiz did not believe Guerrero was aware they were not real.
Guerrero and Brown both declined to speak for the story, while Moreau called the text exchange “fake” and said she didn’t know Ruiz, despite the text chain beginning with her asking where lunch was and offering Brown’s workout schedule for the day. The reason Ruiz is making this story public now is because he claims Brown owes him $10,000 for unpaid services, which is not the first time Brown has been accused of not paying someone fully — he also was released by the Patriots in 2019 over sexual assault allegations from a former personal trainer.
Brown missed a game earlier this season after a positive COVID test and is currently recovering from a foot injury. After the Aaron Rodgers debacle, the NFL is suddenly finding themselves in another frustrating situation regarding a star’s vaccination status.
If this is true, Brown faces not only discipline from the NFL, but also could face five years in prison for having a fake COVID vaccination card, as that is a federal crime. Brown wouldn’t be the first athlete busted for a fake vaccine card, as the NHL suspended Evander Kane for providing a fake prior to this season. The league and team will certainly look into the matter, and we will find out soon enough if Brown’s vaccination records are real or, as Ruiz claims, fake.