Antonio Brown is the latest professional athlete caught up in COVID-19 protocol controversy.
According to his former live-in chef, the Buccaneers receiver got himself a fake COVID-19 vaccine card to bypass the NFL’s health and safety protocols this season.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Brown’s girlfriend asked to pay the chef to purchase the fake Johnson & Johnson card for him.
An alleged screenshot of text messages from Brown’s girlfriend, model Cydney Moreau, to Los Angeles chef Steven Ruiz on July 2 also details the alleged arrangement between the two:
The text thread does not reference Brown by name, rather “AB,” which is a popular nickname of his. As Ruiz describes it, Brown wanted to get a fake card for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it’s a single shot and thus would require less paperwork. While Ruiz said he could not get the fake cards for Brown and Moreau, he cites that a few weeks later, Brown showed him ones he got elsewhere for himself and Moreau. This was reportedly right before the Buccaneers had to report for training camp.
Brown’s personal trainer Alex Guerrero allegedly took a photo of the fake vaccine card that same night to mark him as one of the vaccinated players.
As for why Ruiz is coming forward with these allegations now, he claims Brown owes him and his food company $10,000 after not being paid for his services. Thinking he wouldn’t have enough money to hire an attorney to sue Brown for his debt, Ruiz reached out to Kevin Blatt, who has become well known for selling stories to tabloids. He is credited with releasing Paris Hilton’s sex tape in 2003.
Blatt allegedly then contacted the Bucs’ chief legal officer Dan Malasky and told him the story.
The Buccaneers directly addressed the Times report on Thursday afternoon, saying “no irregularities were observed”:
“After an extensive educational process conducted throughout our organization this past offseason highlighting the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines,” reads the statement, “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. All vaccination cards were reviewed by Buccaneers personnel and no irregularities were observed.”
At the beginning of the season, the Buccaneers claimed to be a “100 percent vaccinated” team, per the Times, although Brown was one of the few players on the team to miss a game due to contracting COVID-19.
The Buccaneers basically said “we don’t really care.”