Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown and two other NFL players have been suspended for COVID protocol violations.

What You Need To Know

The NFL on Thursday announced the suspensions of Brown and teammate Mike Edwards, along with free agent John Franklin III, for what it called the "violation of NFL-NFL Players Association protocols."

Brown and Edwards have each been suspended for three games without pay, while Franklin, who is currently a free agent, would be ineligible to play the next three games if signed by a team.

The suspensions are effective immediately.

The league began its investigation after the Tampa Bay Times reported that Brown obtained and utilized a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.

Both the league and team issued statements on Thursday.

NFL and NFLPA Joint Statement:

"The health and safety of players and personnel is our top priority. The protocols were jointly developed working with our respective experts to ensure that we are practicing and playing football as safely as possible during the ongoing pandemic. 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."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Statement:

"We appreciate the League's timely handling of this matter and recognize the importance of the health and safety protocols that have been established. We will continue to implement all league COVID-19 protocols."