Antonio Brown appears to be in hot water yet again.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver apparently obtained a fake COVID-19 vaccination card in order to avoid NFL protocols, his former live-in chef told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
The newspaper obtained screengrabs of a conversation between the chef, Steven Ruiz, and Brown’s girlfriend — model Cydney Moreau — on July 2 in which Moreau tells Ruiz that the wide receiver is willing to pay $500 for a phony Johnson & Johnson vaccination card.
“I can try,” Ruiz texted Moreau.
Moreau did not use Brown’s name, but did say “Ab said he would give you $500.” Brown is often referred to by his initials, AB.
Brown had skepticism about the vaccine’s potential negative effects on his body, Ruiz said, and wanted the fake Johnson & Johnson card was because it was just one shot and require less paperwork.
Ruiz, who no longer works for Brown due to a financial dispute, said he could not find a fake vaccination card for the wide receiver, but a few weeks later Brown showed him fake cards that he had purchased for himself and Moreau just days before the start of training camp.
Alex Guerrero, a personal trainer and co-founder of TB12 alongside Tom Brady, met with Brown that same night, per Ruiz, and photographed his vaccination card.
Per Stroud, the Bucs would send Guerrero and others to photograph the cards and send them to head trainer Bobby Slater and eventually their infection control officer in an effort to document the list of vaccinated players as quickly as possible.
Ruiz does not believe Guerrero, who declined comment to Stroud, was aware the card was fake.
According to NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy, teams are responsible for verifying vaccination statuses and fake cards would be reviewed under the personal conduct policy and subject to discipline.
Creating, using and/or selling fake cards is also a felony subject to fines and maximum five years in prison.
Earlier this year, an agent estimated that 10-15% of players were using fake vaccination cards.
The Bucs entered the 2021 season as one of few teams that were supposedly 100% vaccinated. This would allow the team to operate with relaxed protocols.
Brown was among a few players who tested positive for COVID-19 back in Week 3, missing the team’s game against the Rams because of it. Vaccinated players can return to work if they are asymptomatic and provide two negative COVID tests 24 hours apart, but Brown ultimately did not meet those requirements until after the same 10-day period unvaccinated players are required to isolate.
Ruiz, who owns Taste ThatLA, claims that Brown owes him $10,000 from an unpaid invoice. He had attempted to extract a settlement from the Bucs receiver, but talks with Brown’s lawyers went nowhere, prompting him to speak publicly about the Super Bowl champion.
The Bucs released a statement following news of the report that the organization found no irregularities upon review of the cards.