The stories of Antonio Brown, Mike Edwards, and John Franklin III “unraveled” under scrutiny

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New England Patriots
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On Thursday, the NFL announced three-game suspensions of Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown, Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards, and free-agent receiver John Franklin III. The man who first broke the story of fake vaccination cards in Tampa explains how the league concluded that this trio was misrepresenting their vaccination status.

According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the NFL used Stroud’s original report from November 18 as the template for constructing its investigation.

On Wednesday, November 24, NFL investigators contacted Steven Ruiz, Brown’s former live-in chef who went public with the claim that Brown had secured and used a fake vaccination card after Brown allegedly failed to pay Ruiz’s bill. Offered an opportunity to have an attorney on the line before answering questions, Ruiz agreed to be interviewed “without hesitation” and then shared his story with the league. Ruiz told the investigators that Franklin sold Brown his fake card.

Brown’s defense fell apart when he told the league that he was vaccinated in Citrus County, which is located 80 miles north of Tampa. Beyond the fact that it made no sense to go that far when the Buccaneers were offering easy and convenient access to vaccines at the team facility, Brown insisted that he traveled to Citrus County without any teammates so that he wouldn’t be recognized. When the league learned that the cards tendered to the team by Edwards and Franklin came from Citrus County on the same day, the stories “unraveled” — especially since none of the three players had personal ties to Citrus County.

Meanwhile, Brown’s lawyer (who has said way too much about the situation, and we’ll have more to say about what he has said later) claimed that Brown secured his card at a drive-through facility. So he said that he drove 80 miles to a drive-through facility, on the same day that Edwards and Franklin were vaccinated in the same county, even though Brown went there alone. The league recognized that claim for the hogwash that it is.

Stroud also explains that NFL investigators separately attempted to verify the information on Brown’s vaccinated card but “ran into familiar roadblocks” regarding confidentiality, etc. Frankly, the “familiar roadblocks” that the league likes to cite ultimately may be a convenient excuse. A source who has been very involved with and knowledgeable regarding the enforcement of the 2021 COVID protocols has explained that players have signed all proper documents and waived all relevant rights, allowing the teams and/or the league to do whatever needs to be done to confirm the information contained on a vaccination card. And even if that isn’t enough in some states to allow the team or the league to verify vaccination status, nothing stops the league from telling players who claim to have been vaccinated off site that it’s up to them and their agents to obtain and present appropriate proof that the cards are real.

That’s an important point, because if the league is able to persuade outsiders that it can’t verify the vaccination information on its own, the league has cover for not making the calls necessary to confirm that the 20 percent of all vaccinated players who received their shots at a place other than team facilities did indeed submit a valid vaccination card. In this case, the proof fell into the league’s lap, starting with Ruiz’s public claim and ending with Brown’s nonsensical story imploding. It didn’t require much elbow grease to stumble into a finding that three fake cards had been submitted.

As to 31 other teams presenting the league with no specific leads as to any specific players who may have submitted fake cards, the league would have to roll up its sleeves and get to work. To date, there has been no inclination whatsoever that the league is willing to embrace this important effort to show that all players who are behaving as if they are vaccinated truly have been. Instead, the league continues to be content to accept the fact that a similarity in the rate of positive tests among the players vaccinated on site and off site means that there isn’t an issue with fake vaccination cards.

And that approach continues to make no logical sense.

36 responses to “The stories of Antonio Brown, Mike Edwards, and John Franklin III “unraveled” under scrutiny

  1. And for this they only got a 3 game suspension?

    Should’ve been 4 games for the fake card and 4 more for lying to investigators.

  2. All because AB stiffed yet another person. This dude is a POS and deserves to lose more. Stop treating people like garbage.

  3. So he lies and commits a felony and he got less than what Brady was framed for.

    And, it’s not a punishment becaus he’s hurt and he is a repeat offender.

    And people ask why I keep pointing out Goodell is the cheater?

  4. tb12bestqbevah says:
    December 4, 2021 at 9:34 am
    And for this they only got a 3 game suspension?

    Should’ve been 4 games for the fake card and 4 more for lying to investigators.

    Agree. They should all be done for the season and playoffs. Three games is a joke.

  5. If Brown wasn’t already out with an injury the investigation would’ve continued until after the superbowl but since he’s injured they can give him a nonpunishment punishment. 3 game suspension during the 3 games he wouldn’t have played anyway.

    In that sense it is similar to Rodgers in that no stars will miss time. It is interesting though that the Packers got a $100,000 fine for not enforcing covid rules and the Bucs get nothing for not doing their due diligence and lying about it.

    If Tom Brady wasn’t the one really in charge in Tampa i’d say suspend Arians 3 games as well for lying his ass off regarding Brown.

  6. This is a big enough deal that the league should just say they’ll look the other way if anyone else has a fake card, if they get vaccinated now. That might scare the other players to get vaccinated that have a fake card, there has to be many more.

  7. While I totally disagree with the vaccine being pushed on anyone I understand the league position on it. But this guy has a history of screwing people over so he is getting less then what he deserves.
    This biggest problem I have with all of it is this, if AB were a practice player or bench warmer he would of instantly been released. The double standards in this league are pretty ridiculous IMO

  8. Neither here nor there… but Franklin is one of the players from that Last Chance U reality show.

  9. Imagine if this type of bulldog investigative reporting was used on something that was actually important.

  10. So AB’s entitled approach to life and how he treats people led to his own demise and cost him 3 game checks which is far more then he owed Ruiz. I honestly don’t think the light will ever go on in that self deprecating dome.

  11. AB is the type of guy Chris Rock was talking about in his infamous routine. If you’re looking for the logic in what he did, there is none. Many people just like being hoods and will choose the shady option every time.

  12. AB haters can feast all they want, but we need to validate the true vaccination status of all the players who did not go thru their own facility, before any further action against him.

  13. They have no interest in pulling this thread. Obviously there are more than 3 guys who did this. The league and the teams don’t want to know how much this happened. They just want to move on. No employer that has any kind of mandate is investigating each vaccination card. It’s not practical.

  14. People clamoring that all off-site vaccinated players need to be verified can just stop. It’s not happening. A credible tip came in against a guy that has all sorts of character flaws. If similar situations arise against players it makes sense to investigate those on a case by case basis. This doesn’t need to be a witch hunt since they already caught the witch.

  15. What he did is against Federal law and is now common knowledge, why has he not been charged?

  16. Brown was once a candidate for Best Offensive Player. Now he is a lock for Most Offensive Person.

  17. Morons, all three of them. I’m no fan of the vaccine mandates and nonsensical mitigation measures, but the league has a rule that the NFLPA agreed to. Brown blatantly and deliberately violated it and lied repeatedly. They should have been suspended at least for the rest of regular season. And they should have been cut.

  18. Well it’s nice to see that Brown decided to own the situation and admit he was wrong. Oh wait, no he didn’t he continued to lie. What a weasel. When was the last time he played and entire season, Arians said he was on a short leash, let’s see if his actions match what he said. I doubt it, he’s a little sketchy too.

  19. It’s amazing tome that Brown still has a job in this league. This guy is a wretched human being.

  20. Arians would like all teams to be scrutinized but it seems that only those three idiots were checked-out, not the whole Bucs team. The NFL is not honest here. Surprise!

  21. “And people ask why I keep pointing out Goodell is the cheater?” We know you keep doing it, because you have nothing else to do.

  22. cam180 says:
    December 4, 2021 at 10:38 am
    AB haters can feast all they want, but we need to validate the true vaccination status of all the players who did not go thru their own facility, before any further action against him.


    Why? He broke the rules. Any other player’s infractions have nothing to do with the fact that he broke the rules and the law. That’s like having your son or daughter say, after being caught doing something wrong, “yeah but Billy did it too.”

  23. Antonio Brown may be the dumbest player to ever don an NFL uniform. I’ve a feeling we will see his mug shot many times TMZ when he decides to hang it up.

  24. I picture these 3 guys getting together and spending a few hours getting their stories straight. Then it only takes about 2 minutes of questions to have it all unravel. I find this amusing (:

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