That won’t be enough to keep the NFL from investigating the situation.
“We are aware of the report and have been in contact with the club,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT by email. “We will review the matter.”
It obviously needs to happen. And, frankly, Brown likely isn’t the only one to have a fake vaccination card, if he indeed did or does. League insiders have buzzed for weeks about the possibility that some players gamed the system by securing fake cards, given the relative ease of doctoring a document with no special markings or features or facets that would make it hard to create a phony record of vaccination.
That said, it would be very easy to make a phone call to confirm that the player did indeed receive the vaccine at the designated place on the designated date from the designated lot. Per the league, the team has the responsibility of ensuring the accuracy of the information.
“Clubs are responsible for verifying personnel and player vaccination status,” McCarthy said. “These individuals have to present their vaccination cards to club medical staff for verification.”
No teams reported issues to the league during verification. Plenty of players got their shots at the team facility, making it much easier to confirm that the shot was indeed obtained.
“Any attempt by team personnel or players to use a forged or fake card would be reviewed under the personal conduct policy,” McCarthy said. “In addition, it is a federal criminal offense.”
Teams were told on July 22 to scrutinize cards carefully, given the potential consequences and risks of a player using a fake vaccine card. Again, given the ease of making a phone call and confirming that the information on the card is accurate, there’s no excuse for any team failing to do so — especially in light of the very strong temptation by vaccine-hesitant players to secure the benefits of being vaccinated by lying about their status.
The fact that the situation implicated the Personal Conduct Policy enhances the predicament for Brown, given that he was suspended eight games last year for violating the policy. As a repeat offender, he’d be subject to enhanced penalties.