TAMPA, Fla. — The NFL announced Thursday that Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers Antonio Brown and Mike Edwards have both been suspended three games for violating the NFL-NFLPA's COVID-19 protocols.
A third player, free agent John Franklin, III, was also suspended for three games for protocol violations.
According to the league, the NFL Players Association conducted a joint review with the league into allegations the players misrepresented their vaccination status under the league's COVID-19 protocols. The review supported the allegations, according to the league statement.
In a joint statement, the league and NFLPA said, "The health and safety of players and personnel is our top priority. The protocols were jointly developed working with our respective experts to ensure that we are practicing and playing football as safely as possible during the ongoing pandemic. 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."
Brown has been a key receiver for the Bucs when he's been on the field, but he's battled injuries in recent weeks. Edwards is a third-year strong safety with the Bucs with 25 tackles, 1 forced fumble, and 3 interceptions on the season.
The suspensions for violating the protocol come just weeks after league MVP candidate, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was fined for his claim to be immunized, but never receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Rodgers missed time while in the COVID-19 protocol after testing positive for the disease, but wasn't suspended.
The league said Brown, Edwards, and Franklin all accepted their suspensions which begin immediately. Brown and Edwards will next be eligible to play in late December.
The Bucs issued a statement on Twitter about the suspensions.
According to a statement obtained by NFL.com's Ian Rapoport from Antonio Brown's lawyer, Sean Burstyn, Brown is vaccinated and will use the time off to rehab his ankle injury.