On Thursday, the NFL announced that Bucs wide receiver Antonio Brown and safe Mike Edwards were each given a three-game suspension. The punishment comes after an investigation found both players guilty of misrepresenting their immunization status to the NFL. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Brown arrived at the camp with a fake vaccination card, but pivoted to receive the real vaccine shortly after.
Speaking to the media on Friday, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians addressed the suspension for the first time.
“Obviously we have two suspended,” Arians said. “The federation did a thorough due diligence and we move on. I’m not going to deal with those for the next three weeks. They will just work. And then we’ll deal with their future at that point. Other than that, there’s really nothing to say.”
But the Arians really have a lot more to say. When asked if the Arians and the organization had made a decision about Brown and Edwards’ futures with the team, the head coach remained open to the consequences of the latter.
“Nothing has been decided, no,” said Arians.
In previous interviews, Arians has made it clear that Brown implements a zero-tolerance policy with the team. Those comments mostly happened last year, though, so it’s still unclear how short Brown’s tie will be in 2021.
When the suspension was first announced, it seemed likely that the impact on the Bucs would be minimal. Brown is likely to miss the next 2-3 games because of an ankle sprain, while Edwards is nursing a bruised knee. With Carlton Davis set to return to the squad, Sean Murphy-Bunting may have pushed Edwards to the bench as the cornerback returned to the nickel position.
But on Friday, the Arians announced that it was a safe start, Jordan Whitehead coming out with a “very” serious calf injury. Whitehead’s injury happened in reality. Edwards was supposed to replace him in the starting line-up, but he is now suspended. Andrew Adams and Ross Cockrell will likely combine to fill Whitehead’s position.
“Total [focused on] The Falcons,” said Arians. “Two people, basically when we look at it, they are injured. I will say this. Over the past two years, I don’t know if there’s been a better team against COVID than us. This is a step backwards because of what happened. But we’ve done an incredible job. And even if one guy has had it, we’ve never had an outbreak in a location room. So I’m very pleased with that part.”
The Bucs head coach doesn’t lie. Tampa Bay has had only two COVID cases since the season began – Brown and quarterback Kevin Minter. That makes the latest situation with Brown and Edwards even worse, because the Bucs have taken great pride in handling COVID properly.
“Yes, that pisses me off,” said Arians. “But that’s what it is.”
It is a reassuring fact that the NFL did not penalize the Bucs, believing the team is innocent of any wrongdoing. The league also made it clear that the Bucs assisted in their investigation.
“We did everything,” said Arians. “I mean, everything. There is so much more to that story. I just hope that [the league] never stop searching [for similar infractions]. ”
When asked if he thinks there were other spurious vaccination problems throughout the tournament, Arians replied: “Possibly.”
Arians posed a question many NFL covers will ponder over the coming days/weeks. Are Brown and Edwards really the only players who misrepresent their immunization status to the league? Or are they the only ones caught? because the former chef of Brown was crazy the receiver didn’t pay him back? The suspension is obviously warranted, but it raises the question of how many other players across the league have made similar mistakes that have yet to be revealed.
https://www.pewterreport.com/bucs-bruce-arians-covid-antonio-brown-mike-edwards/ Bucs HC Arians On Brown, Edwards COVID Violations: “It Pisses Me Off”