Antonio Brown, Mike Edwards and John Franklin III stories “unravel” under scrutiny

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On Thursday, the NFL announced the three-game suspension of Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown, Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards and free agent wide receiver John Franklin III. The man who first revealed the history of the fake vaccination cards in Tampa explains how the league concluded the trio were misrepresenting their vaccination status.

According to Rick Stroud of Tampa Bay weather, the NFL used Stroud’s original Nov. 18 report as a template to build its investigation.

On Wednesday, November 24, NFL investigators contacted Steven Ruiz, Brown’s former home chief, who publicly said Brown obtained and used a fake vaccination card after Brown allegedly failed to pay Ruiz’s bill. . Having had the opportunity to have an attorney online before answering questions, Ruiz agreed to be interviewed “without hesitation” and then shared his story with the league. Ruiz told investigators Franklin sold Brown his fake card.

Brown’s defense collapsed when he told the league he had been vaccinated in Citrus County, located 80 miles north of Tampa. Beyond the fact that it made no sense to go this far when the Buccaneers provided easy and convenient access to vaccines at the team’s premises, Brown insisted he go to Citrus County. without any teammate so that it is not recognized. When the league learned that the cards offered to the team by Edwards and Franklin were from Citrus County on the same day, the stories “fell apart” – especially since none of the three players had any personal connections. with Citrus County.

Meanwhile, Brown’s attorney (who has spoken far too much about the situation, and we’ll have more to say on what he said later) claimed Brown secured his card in a drive-thru. So he said he had driven 80 miles to a drive-thru the same day Edwards and Franklin were vaccinated in the same county, even though Brown went there alone. The league has acknowledged this claim for the hogwash it is.

Stroud also explains that NFL investigators separately attempted to verify information on Brown’s vaccinated card but “ran into familiar hurdles” regarding confidentiality and the like. Frankly, the “familiar obstacles” that the league ultimately likes to cite can be a practical excuse. A source very involved and knowledgeable on the application of COVID 2021 protocols explained that players have signed all appropriate documents and waived all relevant rights, allowing teams and / or the league to do whatever needs to be done. done to confirm the information contained on a vaccination record. And while that may not be enough in some states to allow the team or league to verify vaccination status, nothing prevents the league from telling players who claim to have been vaccinated offsite that it is theirs and their agents to obtain and present appropriate proof that the cards are real.

This is an important point, because while the league is able to persuade outsiders that it cannot verify vaccination information on its own, the league has a cover to not make the calls necessary to confirm that the 20 percent of all vaccinated players who received their shots at a location other than team facilities have indeed submitted a valid vaccination card. In this case, the evidence has fallen on the league’s knees, starting with Ruiz’s public claim and ending with the implosion of Brown’s absurd story. It didn’t take much elbow grease to find out that three fake cards had been submitted.

As for the other 31 teams presenting the league without specific leads as to specific players who might have submitted false cards, the league should roll up its sleeves and get to work. To date, there has been no desire that the league be willing to embrace this important effort to show that all players who behave like they are vaccinated really have been. Instead, the league continues to settle for accepting that a similarity in the rate of positive tests among on-site and off-site vaccinated players means there is no problem with fake cards. vaccination.

And this approach continues to make no logical sense.

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