It's been a while, but Antonio Brown is once again back in the news for all the wrong reasons. News broke late last week that the problematic wideout had been suspended for three games by the NFL because he used a fake vaccination card and misled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on his vaccination status.
Brown's fake vaccination card is not only a reprehensible way to trick his teammates and coaches into thinking he's vaccinated, it's also a literal federal crime. Brown's past legal issues are well-publicized but federal offenses are a new level even for him. He won't get charged for that, presumably, but it doesn't change the fact that the Bucs need to cut Brown as soon as possible.
When Brown initially joined the Bucs in 2020, Bruce Arians told everyone who would listen that Brown would be out of there if he screwed up even once. Well, he has. And this manner of screwing up is personal to Arians, a 69-year-old cancer survivor who is more vulnerable to the worst parts of coronavirus than the average person. He knows it, too. Greg Auman of The Athletic published an excerpt from Arians' new book on the 2020 Super Bowl run that showed the coach's attitude towards COVID-19 protocols:
In his new book, “A Season in the Sun,” Arians talks at length about how proud he is that the Bucs beat COVID-19 before they beat any opponent on the field, that their committed dedication to following protocols made possible their run to a championship.
“If any of you make me or Tom Moore sick, I have a gun and I will shoot you in the kneecaps,” Arians told his players, according to the book. “This is serious shit we’re dealing with.”
There is the obvious temptation that has plagued every coach of Brown's to ignore his shortcomings off the field in exchange for on-field production. The Bucs are going to have a hard enough time repeating as champions this year due to the myriad injuries they've suffered on both sides of the ball that has destroyed their depth. Tom Brady has always been Brown's No. 1 advocate and looks to him constantly when Brown is on the field. Receiver is Tampa's deepest position but they've suffered from the injury bug even there, forced to play Brashad Perriman a significant number of snaps on Sunday after signing him on Friday.
By all rights, Brown shouldn't have gotten a chance to play again after the heinous sexual assault allegations that ended his tenure with the New England Patriots after one game. Tampa Bay decided to take a chance on him anyway and it paid off after Brown caught two touchdowns in the Super Bowl.
Even with that knowledge, it's impossible to think the Bucs would keep him now. It goes against everything Arians and the organization have publicly stood for in regards to coronavirus safety. Brown not only lied and broke the law, he endangered every single person in the building along with their families. It is the most simple and pure example of selfishness you can find in today's world.
Tampa cannot make a decision on all this until his suspension is up on December 26, and Arians has deflected all questions to this point by pointing to that date. Once it arrives, cutting Brown is the only path forward for the Buccaneers.