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The Bucs need Antonio Brown, but legal issues may emerge from vaccination card scam | You Pod to Win the Game

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Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson and Frank Schwab discuss how Antonio Brown makes the Buccaneers an almost unstoppable offense, and gives them a much better chance of repeating as Super Bowl Champions. However, the COVID vaccination card scam for which Brown and Mike Edwards were suspended for could bring legal ramifications. What could that mean for the players and Tampa Bay? Hear the full conversation on the You Pod to Win the Game podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen.

Video Transcript

[BAT HITS BALL, CROWD CHEERS]

CHARLES ROBINSON: Oddly enough, leading into Sunday, I really feel like the biggest story this week ended up being what Antonio Brown and other Buccaneers players may have tried to pull off.

FRANK SCHWAB: I mean, this is the same dude who wanted an old, outdated helmet so bad, he painted it by himself in Raiders colors. Do we did we ever really put it past him that he would be just handwriting a vaccination card? Like, probably on an index card or something, just maybe I was vaccinated.

This is the most surprising yet unsurprising story ever, because it's always something with AB. And I wonder-- Tampa already made their deal with the devil, right? I mean, by signing him, you're automatically just saying, we don't really care. We're just giving up. We'll take your slings and arrows.

But I mean, at some point, I don't know. Is this guy worth the trouble? That's what we ask all the time. I guess he probably is. But it's just such a show with him all the time. It's always something.

CHARLES ROBINSON: I wrote today, I think he's got the upper hand with the Buccaneers in this whole situation, I really truly do, because I think that Tom Brady wants him there. He wouldn't be there in the first place if Tom didn't. Bruce Arians moved off his spot initially about not adding Antonio Brown to that locker room, when ultimately, that's something that Tom really thought would be the best thing. And guess what, it was.

It helped them win a Super Bowl. He contributed down the stretch. And to me, I think there are two things about this that are interesting. Number one, it's that they need him, that having him on the field, particularly looking at what Gronkowski is doing right now and how they beat the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta 30 to 17, 2 touchdowns Rob Gronkowski, now the best TD connection in history next to Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison.

But if Gronk's on the field and he's healthy, and Chris Godwin's out there and Mike Evans is out there and Antonio Brown is out there, unless the line is not holding up, unless the protection is awful, you're screwed. That's just the bottom line.

FRANK SCHWAB: Fournette too. Fournette's playing great football.

CHARLES ROBINSON: You're Right.

FRANK SCHWAB: I didn't expect that coming, but yeah.

CHARLES ROBINSON: Absolutely, yeah, they're getting contributions from Leonard Fournette, as they did in the playoffs last year. That has kind of become the dude a little bit there. So I think they know, ultimately, and particularly Tom Brady knows, if we have our three receivers and our tight end, no matter what, we're going to have a mismatch every single time I drop into the pocket, at least one mismatch to go after.

So I think that, number one, it puts-- I know they're waiting. We'll figure out what Antonio Brown's status is after the three-week suspension is up. And then they'll figure it out. I think he's going to be sticking around, I think ultimately, because they're going to know, this gives us our best chance to win a Super Bowl.

Now, that said, what I thought was really interesting about the revelation is the way this continues to be framed as misrepresented their vaccination status. And the league and the union in this joint statement-- it was really interesting to me. They were very careful about not saying anything about faking vaccination cards, falsifying or forging any kind of information. They were very careful about that.

And I think the reason for that is, particularly once the union got involved, they don't know what's going to happen legally. They don't know if something could ultimately happen legally because, look, there's some nuance in what exactly is illegal here if you create a vaccination card, if you forge, completely falsify a vaccination card.

If you're printing them in the back, you're committing a felony. And you're probably going to prison. FBI is probably going to get involved. And you're going to get screwed.

Now, these could have been legitimate vax cards. They could have been 100% legitimate. Maybe somebody palmed them at a hospital, palmed them wherever they could have gotten their hands on vaccination cards. And then the guys just fill in the information.

Now, you get into some gray area there about what was being written in and who was the card being presented to. It wasn't like you're going through customs. It wasn't like you're traveling, and it's some federal mandate to go here or go there. We've got to see your vaccination card. It was the NFL. It was to go play.

And so I think there's some gray area there. But that's what's going to be interesting as this moves forward is whether or not, if Antonio Brown or any of the other players aren't on the hook for this in terms of some kind of a felony, maybe somebody down the line was. And the question is, does the government, do the feds go through this process of saying, OK, where did you get it? And now let's find out who the person was who's getting vaccination cards.

Even if they're real, they're getting them for individuals out there and selling them. I think that's where the problem could come in.

FRANK SCHWAB: Right. And a high-profile case where they want to make an example out of somebody, here you go. I mean, who better than Antonio Brown? If you don't want people out there faking vax cards, well, this is a pretty good time to get yourself into some headlines and just say, we're making an example of you.