Bucs' Brown among three players suspended for COVID-19 violations

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Nov 22, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) during the first quarter against the New York Giants at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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Dec 2 (Reuters) - Seven-times Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was among three players suspended three games for misrepresenting their COVID-19 vaccination status, the National Football League (NFL) said on Thursday.

Tampa Bay safety Mike Edwards and free agent John Franklin III, who the Bucs waived in August, were also suspended and all three players accepted the discipline and waived their right of appeal, the NFL said.

Brown, who has been sidelined with injury since mid-October, and Edwards will be eligible to return on Dec. 26 when the NFC South-leading Buccaneers play at Carolina. Franklin, if re-signed by a club, will be ineligible to play the next three games.

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The NFL Players Association represented the players during a joint NFL-NFLPA review into the allegations that the trio misrepresented their vaccination status. The review supported the claims and found the players violated the protocols.

"The health and safety of players and personnel is our top priority," the NFL and NFLPA said in a joint statement.

"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."

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Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond

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