Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians still hasn’t made a decision about whether or not wide receiver Antonio Brown and safety Mike Edwards will be allowed to remain with the team after their three-game suspensions are up on Sunday night.
Both Brown and Edwards, and former teammate John Franklin III, “misrepresented their vaccination status” and were suspended for three games earlier this month after accusations that they used fake vaccination cards. That suspension is up after Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.
“It’s just a matter of making a statement,” Arians said Friday, via ESPN. “And whether I do it before this game or after, we’ll wait and see. But I don’t want anything to be distracting from this game.”
Antonio Brown accused of using fake vaccination card
Brown’s former live-in chef, Steven Ruiz, accused him of paying to obtain a fake COVID-19 vaccination card before training camp. The league launched an investigation into Ruiz’s claims, and determined that Brown, Edwards and Franklin all “misrepresented” their status. The league didn’t actually address Ruiz’s claim specifically.
The Buccaneers said that they were 100% vaccinated against the coronavirus in September. Arians has been noncommittal about Brown’s future with the team since the suspension was handed down.
“I haven’t made that determination yet, but we’ll see how it goes,” he said earlier this week. “When we know, we’ll let everyone know.”
In 2020, though, Arians said that Brown was on a very short leash.
The Buccaneers signed him following an eight-game suspension “for multiple violations” of the league’s personal conduct policy last year. Among other things, he’s been accused of rape, sexual misconduct and even pleaded no-contest on a felony burglary conveyance charge.
When the Buccaneers signed him, Arians was very clear.
“He screws up one time, he’s gone,” he said last year.
Whether or not Arians sticks with that statement remains to be seen.
Brown, who has battled an ankle injury this season, recorded 418 yards and four touchdowns on 29 catches in five games. The Buccaneers are tied with the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers at 10-3 for the best record in the NFC.
Should Brown and Edwards be allowed to return, they'll be eligible to play in the Buccaneers' final three games of the season and in the postseason.