Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown has been charged with receiving a fake COVID-19 vaccination card, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The Times reported on Thursday that according to Steven Ruiz – a former personal chef for the broadband phone – Brown got his girlfriend, model Cydney Moreau, to contact Ruiz over the summer to get a fake vaccination card saying Brown had received Johnson & Johnson shot. According to text messages provided by Ruiz, Moreau offered $ 500 for a fake card.
Ruiz said he was not able to acquire a fake card for Brown, according to the report, but that wide receiver a few weeks later showed him the ones he had for him and Moreau, which he said he had bought.
Brown was reportedly reluctant to get the vaccine due to possible side effects. It is unclear whether Brown later received a vaccination shot.
In response to the Times story, the Buccaneers issued a statement saying they had “received completed vaccination cards from all Tampa Bay Buccaneers players.”
“All vaccination cards were reviewed by Buccaneer staff and no irregularities were observed,” the team said.
Brown’s attorney, Sean Burstyn, denied Ruiz’s claims in a statement to the Times.
“Antonio Brown appreciates the seriousness of the pandemic and that is why he got the vaccine and supports everyone for whom it is advisable to get the vaccine,” Burstyn wrote to the newspaper. “Coronavirus has hit close to home when it took him out of a match. He is healthy, vaccinated and ready to win another Super Bowl.
“One of the worst parts of the pandemic has been a movement to cast doubt on our country’s vaccination programs with baseless, vengeful tabloid gossip.”
Moreau also told the Times she did not know Ruiz and denied his accusation.
Brown missed the Buccaneers’ Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams after testing positive for COVID-19 four days before the game. He was activated the following week, but has since missed the last three games with an ankle injury.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement that the league was “knowledgeable about the report and has been in touch with the club. We will review the matter.” He previously told the Times that any attempt to use a fake vaccine card could be disciplined under the league’s personal behavior policy. Brown could also get legal trouble if he used a fake card.
Ruiz said he went public with the indictment after Brown failed to pay $ 10,000, which was due to him, according to the Times.