A former live-in chef for Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown is accusing him of obtaining a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. The chef, Steven Ruiz, shared text message conversations he had with Brown's girlfriend Cydney Moreau with the Tampa Bay Times.
Ruiz says he stopped working for Brown after a dispute over a debt of $10,000.
In the messages featured in the story, Moreau asked Ruiz if he could obtain the card. "JNJ shot. Ab said he would give you $500," the text shows.
Moreau denies knowing or being in communication with Ruiz, though the Tampa Bay Times says it confirmed that the phone number used in the conversation belongs to her.
Ruiz says he did not successfully find Brown a fake vaccination card, but Brown eventually found them for himself and Moreau, and showed the chef "days before the start of Bucs training camp," according to the report.
That night, Ruiz said Brown received treatment from Alex Guerrero, co-founder of Tom Brady's company TB12. Guerrero took a photo of the alleged fake vaccination card while at Brown's home, Ruiz said.
It is not clear whether Brown submitted a fake vaccination record to the Buccaneers franchise. His attorney Sean Burstyn told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport that Brown is, in fact, vaccinated.
Earlier this season, he missed the team's Week 3 loss to the Rams due to a positive COVID-19 test. He was subject to the full 10-day period after the test. Vaccinated players may be cleared more quickly if they test negative twice in a 24-hour period.
If Brown was violating protocol for unvaccinated players, he and the Buccaneers could be on the hook for fines from the league. He has given in-person, unmasked press conferences this season on multiple occasions.
Ahead of Tampa Bay's first game, coach Bruce Arians said that the franchise was "100% vaccinated," a number that includes "every player, coach and staff member."
Brown has missed the team's last three games due to a foot injury.
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