Why was Antonio Brown suspended, but not Aaron Rodgers?

Why was Antonio Brown suspended, but not Aaron Rodgers?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown has been suspended for three games for misrepresenting his vaccine status, yet Aaron Rodgers has not.

On Thursday afternoon, the outcome of the NFL investigation into the allegation that Antonio Brown used a fake vaccine card became public. It was determined that Brown and two others “misrepresented (their) vaccination status under the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 Protocols,” resulting in a three-game suspension for Brown.

#Bucs WR Antonio Brown was determined to have misrepresented his vaccination status under the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 Protocols. The review supported those allegations and found that Brown — and two others — violated protocols.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 2, 2021

The NFL has been clear about the protocol for when players break specific aspects of the agreement, such as “failing or refusing to fully cooperate with an investigation” by the NFL or “refusal to submit to required virus testing under the Screening and Testing Protocol.”

There’s no addendum specifying what the league would do if a player did not wear a mask at press conferences, putting journalists at risk for COVID infection the way an “immunized” Aaron Rodgers did this season.

There’s also no addendum for what the league would do if a player submitted a falsified vaccine card, which is allegedly what was the case for Antonio Brown.

However, the NFL made it abundantly clear that players who violate COVID protocols “may be disciplined…for violations.” Considering that Brown presented himself as vaccinated instead of undergoing the rigorous protocols mandated for unvaccinated players, he clearly violated all of the NFL’s protocols for unvaccinated players.

The NFL deemed a three-game suspension was appropriate for Brown’s offense, while Rodgers received a $14,650 fine for attending a Halloween party while unvaccinated.

Though the situations are different, NFL fans have been quick to point out that Brown’s suspension feels disproportionate to the treatment Rodgers received from the league.

Okay, I haven’t been following this closely, but Antonio Brown was suspended for three games for using a fake vaccine card.

Meanwhile, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was fined $14,650 for misrepresenting his status.

Did I get that right? https://t.co/929mEs7fD5

— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) December 2, 2021

Why wasn’t Aaron Rodgers suspended?

While there are differing perspectives concerned with the fairness of the situation, the objective reality is that Rodgers and Brown committed two different offenses that are subject to the NFL’s somewhat subjective discretion.

As an unvaccinated player, you must take a COVID test every single day, even on off days. Aaron Rodgers did that. He was fined for going to a Halloween party, which an unvaccinated player can’t do.

Antonio Brown followed protocols as if he was vaccinated… when he wasn’t. https://t.co/xRQIjHqcJ4

— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) December 2, 2021

Rodgers misled the media and the public by saying he was immunized, but the Packers and the NFL were aware of his status. The investigation then focused on whether or not he violated protocol, which he did and was fined accordingly. However, it was not determined that Rodgers broke other protocols set out for unvaccinated players. While he kept his vaccination status private and misled the public, his club was aware, so the Rodgers situation became more a scandal than a technical violation of various NFL rules.

Meanwhile, Brown misled his team by allegedly presenting a fake vaccine card, meaning that for the entire season, he falsely presented himself as a vaccinated player when he was not.

Because the NFL does not have a stipulation for presenting a fake vaccine card, it is the league’s discretion as to how they will penalize Brown and for what period of time. Falsifying a vaccine card allows players to endanger their teammates and anyone they interact with, which is why Brown would be penalized more heavily than Rodgers. The rest of us may have not known about Rodgers, but his team did. The same cannot be said of Brown.

Whether or not it’s fair to suspend Brown and not Rodgers can be debated, but as far as “conduct detrimental to the team” goes, Brown misled his teammates in addition to the general public.

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