Antonio Brown can’t seem to get out of his own way, and his poor decision-making has now found it’s way to his tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The former All-Pro wideout was accused in November of falsifying his COVID-19 vaccination card to the Buccaneers, an allegation made by his former chef after Brown refused to pay a $10,000 tab, but Brown and his representation vehemently denied any accusation he had misled the team.
The NFL disagreed, and after finalizing a formal probe of their own, they found Brown did violate the league’s COVID-19 protocol by misrepresenting his vaccination status — suspending him for three games without pay. The Buccaneers did just fine without Brown in the first game of his suspension, beating the Atlanta Falcons 30-17 on Sunday.
His latest mistake will cost him upwards of $330,000 in lost revenue from those three games, but it might ultimately cost him much, much more than that. Initially, an infuriated head coach Bruce Arians refused to commit to the ongoing marriage to Brown and one other player involved in the scandal — safety Mike Edwards — stating a decision will be made when they’re allowed to return.
“We’ll address their future at that time,” Arians told media.
It now looks as if there’s a very real chance Brown won’t be allowed to return at all, or at least that’s part of the debate that rages on in Central Florida. A potential waiving of Brown is on the table, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, but no decision has been made at this point. Arians, who is a 67-year-old cancer survivor, made a very public and passionate push to get the Buccaneers to a 100 percent vaccination rate this past offseason, and believed he successfully achieved that goal.
He found out the hard way in November that he had not, but was instead lied to by Edwards and Brown, the latter being a particularly pointed stick when considering it was Arians who gave Brown another shot in the NFL when presumably no one else would touch him; following waves of legal and PR nightmares that ended his time with the Las Vegas Raiders before he took a single snap for the club and, subsequently, a short stay with the New England Patriots that ended prematurely as well because of those waves.
Off of the field, Brown had a quiet 2020 season in Tampa, while making an impact on the field that helped lead them to a championship in Tom Brady’s first year with the club. But in 2021, between his battles with injury that’s cost him time and now a three-game suspension for violating the league’s COVID-19 policy, Brown’s demons are back in full force.
And Arians is working to decide if dealing with them is worth keeping Brown around.