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Buccaneers' Antonio Brown suspended 3 games for COVID-19 violation

Buccaneers' Antonio Brown suspended 3 games for COVID-19 violation
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81), shown Jan. 9, 2021, will be eligible to return to the lineup for the team's Dec. 26 game against the Carolina Panthers. File Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers star wide receiver Antonio Brown was suspended three games for a violation of the NFL's COVID-19 protocols, the league announced Thursday.

The NFL and its players' union found that Brown was among three players who misrepresented their vaccination statuses. Earlier this month, Brown's former personal chef said the wideout had acquired a fake COVID-19 vaccine card in the summer.

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The league also suspended Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards and free-agent wide receiver John Franklin III -- whom Tampa Bay waived in August -- for three games. According to the NFL, all three players accepted their punishments and won't appeal.

Brown's and Edwards' suspensions are without pay, the league said. Both players will be eligible to return to the Bucs' lineup for the team's Dec. 26 matchup against the Carolina Panthers.

ESPN reported that all three players are now vaccinated and admitted wrongdoing to the NFL in its investigation.

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"The NFL-NFLPA jointly reinforce their commitment and further emphasize the importance of strict adherence to the protocols to protect the well-being of everyone associated with the NFL," the league and its union said in a statement.

Brown, who is in his second season with the Buccaneers, has missed five consecutive games because of an ankle injury. In five games this season, he has recorded 29 catches for 418 yards and four touchdowns.

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