A lot can change in only two weeks.
In the aftermath of a claim from Antonio Brown‘s former live-in chef that Brown obtained and presented a fake vaccination card to the Buccaneers, the team issued a statement that everything was handled properly.
“After an extensive educational process conducted throughout our organization this past offseason highlighting the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines, we received completed vaccination cards from all Tampa Bay Buccaneers players and submitted the required information to the NFL through the established process in accordance with league policy,” the statement said. “All vaccination cards were reviewed by Buccaneers personnel and no irregularities were observed.”
No irregularities may have been observed, but irregularities existed. Three of them. Our of 90.
Now that the league has concluded that Antonio Brown, Mike Edwards, and James Franklin III misrepresented their vaccination status, the Buccaneers have issued another statement.
“We appreciate the League’s timely handling of this matter and recognize the importance of the health and safety protocols that have been established,” the new statement explains. “We will continue to implement all league COVID-19 protocols.”
Maybe they should say they will continue to try to implement all protocols. Because they obviously failed. By taking Brown, Edwards, and Franklin at their word, the Buccaneers allowed three unvaccinated players to mingle with everyone who was properly vaccinated, placing them at risk of breakthrough infections and, possibly, serious illness or death.
The chances of that happening to a vaccinated player were and are very slim. However, coach Bruce Arians — who comes off looking very bad as a result of this, given his strident insistence that there was no story here — has survived three different types of cancer. Offensive consultant Tom Moore is 83.
Arians and Moore should be pissed. The Buccaneers should be pissed. Unfortunately, they set themselves up for this by doing nothing more than performing a cursory and superficial review of the cards, never recognizing the very strong temptation for players who refuse to be vaccinated but who don’t want to be subject to the rules for unvaccinated players to simply like about being vaccinated.
If Browns wasn’t such a key part of the team, the Bucs would surely cut him. They should cut him anyway, but they won’t. As we’ve seen times and again, example are made of the scrubs and excuses are made for the stars. If they want to have a real shot at another Super Bowl, they need AB. If they didn’t need him, he’d already be gone.