On Thursday, the NFL announced that Bucs wide receiver Antonio Brown and safety Mike Edwards were each being suspended three games. The punishment was levied following an investigation that found both players guilty of misrepresenting their vaccination status to the NFL. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Brown arrived at camp with a fake vaccination card, but pivoted to receive the actual vaccine shortly after.

Speaking to the media on Friday, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians addressed the suspensions for the first time.

“Obviously we have two guys suspended,” Arians said. “The league did their due diligence and we move on. I will not address those guys for the next three weeks. They’ll just be working out. And then we’ll address their future at that time. Other than that, there’s really nothing to say.”

But Arians actually had plenty more to say. When asked if Arians and the organization had made a decision about Brown and Edwards’ future with the team, the head coach left the door open for further consequences.

“Nothing has been decided, no,” Arians said.

In past interviews, Arians has made it clear that Brown is on a zero-tolerance policy with the team. Those comments mostly occurred last year though, so it remains unclear how short Brown’s leash is in 2021.

When the suspensions were first announced, it seemed the impact on the Bucs would be minimal. Brown was likely to miss the next 2-3 games with an ankle sprain anyway, while Edwards was nursing a bruised knee. With Carlton Davis set to return to the lineup, Sean Murphy-Bunting would have pushed Edwards to the bench as the cornerback moved back to the nickel spot.

Bucs S Jordan Whitehead

Bucs S Jordan Whitehead – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

But on Friday, Arians announced that starting safety Jordan Whitehead is out with a “very” significant calf injury. Whitehead’s injury occurred in practice. Edwards would have replaced him in the starting lineup, but now he’s suspended. Andrew Adams and Ross Cockrell will likely combine to fill Whitehead’s spot.

“Totally [focused on] the Falcons,” Arians said. “Two guys, basically as we look at it, they’re hurt. I will say this. In the last two years, I don’t know if there has been a team better against COVID than we have been. This is a setback because of what happened. But we have done an amazing job. And even when a guy has had it, we’ve never had an outbreak in a position room. So I’m very happy with that part.”

The Bucs head coach isn’t lying. Tampa Bay has had only two COVID cases since the season began – Brown and linebacker Kevin Minter. That makes the latest situation with Brown and Edwards sting worse, because the Bucs have taken so much pride in handling COVID the right way.

“Yeah, it pisses me off,” Arians said. “But it is what it is.”

One reassuring fact is that the NFL did not fine the Bucs, believing the team to be innocent of any wrongdoing. The league also made it clear that the Bucs assisted in their investigation.

“We’ve done everything,” Arians said. “I mean, everything. There’s a lot more to that story. I just hope that [the league] doesn’t stop looking [for similar infractions].”

When asked if he thinks there are other fake vaccination issues throughout the league, Arians replied, “maybe”.

Arians raises a question many who cover the NFL will be pondering over the coming days/weeks. Are Brown and Edwards really the only players to misrepresent their vaccination status to the league? Or are they just the only guys who got caught because Brown’s ex-chef was mad the receiver hadn’t paid him back? The suspensions are obviously warranted, but it begs the question of how many other players around the league have made the same missteps, yet haven’t been exposed.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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pokerpat12
pokerpat12(@pokerpat12)
1 month ago

I love the Bucs, ALL of them but make NO mistake. I am furious with AB and Edwards. I think they missed the point that the Bucs are in the midst of creating an atmosphere that allows for greatness to occur. We are the World Champions, we are endeavoring to be one of the few teams in NFL history to repeat. AB and Edwards need to either be “All-In” with that or hit the road. If my son stole a candy bar, I would still love him, but I’d be mad as hell. Got it!

Benjamin
Benjamin(@jammin8519)
Reply to  pokerpat12
1 month ago

AB fixed his mistake by getting vaccinated shortly after someone told him he’d get in trouble. So he went and got vaxxed. To me that’s fixing your mistake. Now with Edward’s I have no idea what he did or didn’t do. There’s been nothing put out on him and I believe he is a bigger loss than AB right now. The secondary is still banged up and SMB has looked terrible in the games he has played pre and post injury.

compewterpirate
compewterpirate(@compewterpirate)
1 month ago

“The suspensions are obviously warranted?” The suspensions are excessive in my view. Whilst the players should have honestly reported their vaccine status, if that is what is required under the league COVID protocols, the three game bans seem overly authoritarian and more of a political statement than a case of the punishment fitting the crime.

fredster
fredster(@fredster)
Reply to  compewterpirate
1 month ago

Agreed and perhaps I’m not getting it, but last I checked vaccine doesn’t prevent you from getting Covid and spreading it, and plenty players and coaches have had Covid and were Vaxxed. So to me it’s personal issue that doesn’t really affect others. Whole thing with vaccines and mandates has become a political, non science based joke. New mutations popping up that don’t respond to that vaccine as well.

Joseph
Joseph(@llamaliberation)
Reply to  fredster
1 month ago

How you feel about covid and the vaccine is irrelevant to the situation the players union came to an agreement with the NFL they didn’t have to like the rules but they agreed to them. If he didn’t want the shot there are avenues he could have pursued but didn’t he purchased an illegal document which falsified his health status which is a criminal offense whether he used it or not doesn’t matter him simply buying it was illegal. Why ab, it’s so frustrating, I think he is still ultra talented but he is still making bad decisions and you… Read more »

Knightrider79
Knightrider79(@knightrider79)
Reply to  Joseph
1 month ago

Last time I checked this was still America. And with it still being America then your private healthcare is just that, private.

bucballer
bucballer(@bucballer)
Reply to  Knightrider79
1 month ago

There is no such privacy when u r playing a professional team sport my man. Team and individual have to agree on treatment. It’s actually written into the contract, like no sky diving, no scuba maybe, no cliff diving. This is not that hard. If ur association has requirements that u r not happy with then don’t join that association. Playing professional football is a privilege. U don’t have to play if u don’t want to or disagree with the restrictions.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17(@toofamiliar17)
Reply to  Knightrider79
1 month ago

Apparently Knightrider has no idea how contracts work. As Joseph said, the players union, which represents all players, agreed to the league’s Covid protocols. They could have chosen not to, but upon willingly doing so, they threw their right to privacy from the league about whether or not they got the vaccine out the window.

Knightrider79
Knightrider79(@knightrider79)
Reply to  fredster
1 month ago

Notice we went a year with just Covid-19. Now after we have a “vaccine” they have new mutations popping up left and right.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17(@toofamiliar17)
Reply to  Knightrider79
1 month ago

Yes. That’s how viruses work, genius. All of them do it, lol. You sound ridiculous to anyone with even a cursory understanding of the science behind this stuff. Stop eagerly embracing ignorance and do some actual research of published, peer-reviewed, accredited scientific sources. It’s really easy.

Runole
Runole(@runole)
Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 month ago

Please cite your degrees in science and virology, So you still get small pox and polio after being vaccinated? Do you understand how grant money is acquired? You believe in “settled science”?
Time to remove that genius label you have assigned to yourself?

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17(@toofamiliar17)
Reply to  fredster
1 month ago

This is about as bright as it would be to say “People wearing their seatbelts can still die in car accidents, so I don’t see what the big deal is. It’s a personal issue of whether or not to buckle your kids in when you put them in the car.” Just because people CAN still get Covid after receiving the vaccine doesn’t mean that the choice of whether or not to get vaccinated is purely a personal one. It is a closely observed and recorded fact that those who get the vaccine are far less LIKELY to get Covid, and… Read more »

Runole
Runole(@runole)
Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 month ago

recorded fact that those who get the vaccine are far less LIKELY to get Covid,

ISRAEL STUDY ” Gold standard” disagrees, I suggest you review it.

Runole
Runole(@runole)
Reply to  compewterpirate
1 month ago

agree! Simple question Is AB vaccinated? According to the above he has been vaccinated. Are they lying? But, but, but he considered using a fake card! Horrors!

Obey your overlords! Do as they say not as they do! SMH

Buc76
Buc76(@jjjj)
1 month ago

AB lied to Bruce Arians and he went out to the media now has egg on his face. The only way he stays if management doesn’t cut him loose, is if the players accept what he did and agree to ride things out to the end of the season for purposes of winning another super bowl. that goes for Edwards too I would think

eaustinyoung
eaustinyoung(@eaustinyoung)
1 month ago

If he’s dumb enough to cut Mike Edwards over this, that’s going to bite the Bucs in the ass. Edwards is a starting safety on most NFL teams. Belichick would salivate for a guy like him.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
1 month ago

Meh … Arians does not want to comment, despite the media pushing him to comment. Nothing there, move along.

Meanwhile Aaron Rodgers goes scot free after deceiving everybody for months, and also failed to follow the league’s rules for un-vaccinated players and coaches. Crickets.

Joseph
Joseph(@llamaliberation)
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 month ago

I was pretty sure the league and green bay knew he was unvaccinated he violated mask protocol and was fined as was the team. He “misled ” the media by using the term immunized when they asked him if he was vaccinated.

Runole
Runole(@runole)
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 month ago

Agree much ado about in the end NOTHING! This of course is under the assumption that AB is vaccinated, Did he get a fake card? YES! Did he use it ? No unless the NFL and Arians are lying.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17(@toofamiliar17)
Reply to  Runole
1 month ago

Neither the league nor Arians has said that he never used the fake card. The report out right now is that he initially used then, then got vaccinated for real before long. Different things there.

Lawdy
Lawdy(@lawdy)
1 month ago

cant afford to lose any more players. this team will never be fully healthy this season

twspin
twspin(@twspin)
1 month ago

To be honest, Bucs need to cut AB. But I don’t think they will. The man is an outright liar and Thug. Owners still might do it though. Brady won’t help him now.

Runole
Runole(@runole)
Reply to  twspin
1 month ago

disagree that he should be cut. As to your assertions they aren’t proven as to this latest issue. You trust the media I don’t.

Captain Sly
Captain Sly(@captain-sly)
Reply to  twspin
1 month ago

Selfishly I’m going to have to disagree with you about cutting AB. He’s a weapon! And so (Hypothetically) If we cut him now he can sign with the Rams, Cowboys, Chiefs, Bills or Patriots. I personally don’t want to see somebody named Pierre Desir trying to cover an AB in January. Fwiw

compewterpirate
compewterpirate(@compewterpirate)
Reply to  twspin
1 month ago

AB has been a model citizen and a positive influence as a team mate during his tenure with the Bucs. In spite of his ability to attract trouble like a magnet off the field, his contributions on the field were an integral part of our winning the Super Bowl. There is no way he will be cut over something this trivial. If you think TB 12 is going to abandon AB over such an inconsequential incident you are very much mistaken.

Knightrider79
Knightrider79(@knightrider79)
1 month ago

So we’re gonna punish guys for not taking a vaccine that is proven to be ineffective. They got mad at Aaron Rodgers for lying about his “vaccine” status when he said he was “immunized” which he was, he just didn’t take the one they wanted him to. This whole thing with the vaccine is so stupid and we need to reinstate the players and just let them play.

bucballer
bucballer(@bucballer)
Reply to  Knightrider79
1 month ago

We r if they r playing in the NFL! They will be punished if they refuse to meet the standards set by the League. I didn’t set them. U didn’t set them. That’s just the rules. U don’t have to like them, but u do have to abide by them. Again… not that hard to understand!

Eddie
Eddie(@oct62020)
1 month ago

So Brown was vaccinated after all and posted no danger to his teammates. Unlike the QB at Green bay who self medicated with alternative medicine. And one was suspended and one was fined.. Kind of like how Brady was suspended when NFL couldn’t find any direct evidence of wrong doing and resorted to the “integrity of the game” as reason for suspension.

Runole
Runole(@runole)
Reply to  Eddie
1 month ago

Good point and probably accurate, After all it is “Not like he shot the president”

bucballer
bucballer(@bucballer)
Reply to  Runole
1 month ago

Hey nole, u go to Tally?

Runole
Runole(@runole)
Reply to  bucballer
1 month ago

Nope but 3 brothers,3 sister in laws, son , daughter in law, nieces, nephews, grand daughter, and others all graduates.

Horse
Horse(@horse)
1 month ago

When is enough, enough with Brown. NOW! I’m disgusted with his disregard of his fellow team mates rights to feel safe. Release him and let’s move on. What an idiot! Please, let’s don’t make this political. The box really don’t have a choice here,

plopes808
plopes808(@plopes808)
1 month ago

In my opinion, this should be a football decision. These guys were wrong for trying to play the system and they got caught. I’m sure they’re not the only ones in the league but they’re the first to get snitched out. Getting rid of these guys would be a horrible football decision.
Opinions of the vaccine and mandates aside, this is a FOOTBALL team and the management should make decisions based on FOOTBALL.

compewterpirate
compewterpirate(@compewterpirate)
1 month ago

I am sure BA is pissed and is evidently publicly reprimanding the pair, nevertheless neither of them are going to get cut over the issue. AB has been a positive influence and model citizen as team mate, during his tenure with the Bucs, in spite of his propensity to attract trouble off the field like a magnet and Mike Edwards has otherwise had an exemplary disciplinary record with the team. They are both integral members of the squad, rather than fringe players, consequently they will not be released over something as relatively trivial as this breach of league protocol.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17(@toofamiliar17)
1 month ago

Man, how many of AB’s off the field problems have come up because he refused to pay someone for work they did? Not all of them, obviously, but come on, man. Quick being a jerk, and pay your bills. With your income, it is NOT that damn hard. You’re just hurting yourself and your team. Stop being so damn cheap.

Swash
Swash(@yomammy)
1 month ago

So much for the “non-story” Pewter Report.
Yall boys really have just given up, huh?

Dman
Dman(@dman)
1 month ago

Just cut AB and move on. A leopard doesn’t change his spots as the saying goes. But I think the ultimate decision will rest with TB. BA was clear he didn’t want AB to begin with and was overruled. Gut check time for Jason Licht.

The Freeman
The Freeman(@the-freeman)
1 month ago

BA is a fraud if he keep AB on the team!

Dman
Dman(@dman)
Reply to  The Freeman
1 month ago

Not sure about that. Ultimately not his call.

The Freeman
The Freeman(@the-freeman)
Reply to  Dman
1 month ago

watching all his PC since last year about AB, the COVID or the “non-story”, it’s hurt to say it but he’s a fraud if AB play another game on his team.
but yeah not his call, looks like TB12’s in command of more than we think.
keeping AB’s the best decision if you want to win a SB this year but in the long run for the culture of your team it’s a bad one.
good for him he’s not a young HC who will have to defend such a poor decision in a job interview one day.

scubog
scubog(@scubog)
Reply to  The Freeman
1 month ago

Not sure if Antonia Brown can even be released outright since he is technically injured. I have always suspected the team would not take any action until the three week suspensions expire. At that time, a separate decision can be made for each player. I know, I wouldn’t want to see B.A. get released, signed by one of our play-off opponents and come back to haunt us. There’s no way Mike Edwards gets cut.

Spruce
Spruce(@mdb06074gmail-com)
1 month ago

Sooner or later teams realize the Brown for all he talent simply is not worth the aggravation In a sport the is all about the team and depending on each other what he did was unforgivable.

Benjamin
Benjamin(@jammin8519)
1 month ago

Has anyone seen SMB play well in the Nickle this season? I sure haven’t so when the suspension is over Edward’s needs to go back in at Nickle he made plays and has been a playmaker since being drafted.