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Opinion: Buccaneers Played Themselves When It Came To Antonio Brown

The Bucs chose poorly on this one.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

The latest application of the age-old creed belongs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who just watched the NFL suspend two of its players and a former player after the league determined said players misrepresented their vaccine status. 

The NFL's findings and conclusion stem from the report produced by the Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud claiming that Antonio Brown paid money to have a COVID-19 vaccination card forged through an associate of Brown's. Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards and former Bucs receiver John Franklin III, who was waived as part of roster cuts ahead of the Bucs' second preseason game, were handed suspensions as well.

The card was then obtained in some form or fashion, as Bruce Arians said on September 2 the Bucs were 100% vaccinated at that point in time. That number included "players, coaches, everybody", per Arians. 

The Bucs head coach wouldn't have made that statement if Brown and the others maintained their unvaccinated statuses in the proper manner. But the trio didn't do that and instead filed as vaccinated players so they wouldn't have to fall in line under the different set of league requirements for unvaccinated players.

So, each player went on their merrmask-less way(s) as the 2021 NFL season kicked off the following week.

I'm not here to bury the Bucs for unsuspecting foul play on the part of Brown, Edwards, and Franklin. There's a level of trust that must exist between players, coaches, and just the franchise as a whole. Teams don't win games without that trust and you have to give people the benefit of the doubt in order to build this aspect of a relationship. 

You can't just doubt people from the start and expect things to grow in an organic way.

But what I can bury the Bucs on is their lack of foresight. Because in hindsight, it wasn't hard to see something like this coming - as it pertains to Brown. 

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The Bucs somehow convinced themselves into thinking this isn't the same Bad News Brown that drove hard-nosed organizations like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, and New England Patriots mad enough to the point where they either traded him for a washing machine or ate millions of dollars in dead money just to get rid of him. In the case of the Steelers, it was both.

Somehow, the organization managed to conclude that Brown would remain trouble-free during his time in Tampa Bay, despite the fact that Brown threw a bicycle at a guard shack just two weeks before he joined the team. 

The Bucs knew about what happened, but still signed him, anyway.

I'm sorry, but a violent incident such as this occurs two weeks prior to your decision to sign him and you still go through with it? After everything that came before then? It's not about the context of the situation and what happened, it's the fact that Brown's actions were another display of his consistently aggressive, poor, and sometimes violent decision-making. And it was a recent example, not something that had already occurred.

It should have been enough red flags to says "no thanks".

Now, the Bucs are eating crow after being the center of an NFL investigation that could very well have legal implications weaved in later down the road. The Buccaneers are in a terrible position. And while this likely doesn't happen if Brown simply pays his chef, they still have no one to blame but themselves for creating this opportunity of malfeasance.

And the dumbest part about the entire situation is that Tampa Bay owed Brown nothing. Nada. Zero. The Bucs were the ones who went out and took the risk on Brown. They were the ones who signed their names at the bottom, not Brown.

And this is how he repays them? 

Well, I guess they're fortunate he paid them anything, at all. 

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