Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown found himself embroiled in a bizarre controversy this week.
Late Thursday afternoon, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Brown’s ex-personal chef, Steven Ruiz, claims the Bucs receiver obtained a fake COVID-19 vaccination card to get around team and league instance that he get his shots.
Brown, through his legal representation, has denied these claims. Further muddying the waters is the personal beef that seems to exist between Ruiz and Brown, with the former claiming the latter reneged on paying him $10,000 that was apparently owed over unspecified services.
Whether this tiff between Ruiz and Brown makes the accusations more credible or less credible is a matter of personal opinion.
According to Ruiz, Brown’s girlfriend Cydney Moreau reportedly texted him the following message: “Can you get the COVID cards?”
Moreau reportedly said that Brown wanted the Johnson & Johnson fake card because only one dose of that vaccine is required, which in turn would mean less counterfeit paperwork.
Brown was allegedly willing to pay Ruiz $500 for the card.
According to Steven Ruiz’s screenshot, Brown’s girlfriend Cydney Moreau asked the chef to purchase fake vaccine cards for A.B., the Bucs player.
— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) November 18, 2021
Ruiz, apparently, was unable to obtain the fake cards. Despite that, he claims Brown was able to get one anyway for both himself and his girlfriend.
Brown’s attorney, Sean Burstyn, adamantly denied Ruiz’s claims on Thursday.
“If Antonio’s doctors and the guidelines require a booster shot, then at that time, he’ll be happy to do it live on TV and everyone can come watch,” he told Jenna Laine of ESPN.
On Friday, a new wrinkle in this case emerged. Pro Football Network insider Adam Beasley, who previously worked for the Miami Herald, reported that there have been rumors of Brown offering others a fake vaccine card hookup for weeks now.
The word in Florida football circles is Antonio Brown offered his vaxx card hookup to others in the NFL community. That’s how I first heard about this.
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) November 18, 2021
The NFL, for what it’s worth, is apparently now investigating the matter.
“We are aware of the report and have been in contact with the club,” NFL Vice President of Communications Brian McCarthy told CNN. “We will review the matter.”
The Buccaneers also released a statement denying any wrongdoing.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) November 18, 2021
Brown is obviously a unique character. Between his fascinating love triangles, memorable way of dealing with groupies who try to expose him, and interesting relationship with Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – nothing is normal with him.
But this most recent drama takes things to a new level.
Paulina Gretzky knows how to go viral. https://t.co/MJnHf7EJ1y
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 18, 2021
How will this situation ultimately pan out? Time will tell.
A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.