Antonio Brown's Former Chef Steven Ruiz to Sue WR for $10k in Unpaid Wages

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 4, 2021

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 14: Antonio Brown #81 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 14, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Steven Ruiz, who previously worked as Antonio Brown's chef, said he's planning to file a lawsuit against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver for $10,000 in unpaid wages.

Ruiz was the whistleblower who told the NFL that Brown used a fake COVID-19 vaccination card, leading to the wideout's three-game suspension. He spoke with TMZ Sports about his decision to move forward with a civil suit.

"The game plan now is to file a lawsuit and take it from there," Ruiz said. "People provide a service and you've got to pay for it. That's it."

Ruiz provided text messages to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times in November that showed Brown's girlfriend, Cydney Moreau, asking for a fake vaccine card and saying Brown would pay $500 for one. The article led to an NFL investigation.

The NFL and NFL Players Association released a joint statement after Brown, Bucs safety Mike Edwards and free-agent wide receiver John Franklin III accepted three-game bans after it was deemed they "misrepresented their vaccination status:"

"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."

Ruiz told TMZ he likely wouldn't have come forward with the story if Brown had paid his debt.

"If he had just probably paid me, you know what? He probably would still be getting paid in the NFL right now," Ruiz said. "He'd probably be playing the games that he could be playing and none of this would have even happened."

Meanwhile, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians urged the NFL to take a closer look to see whether players on other teams used fake vaccination cards.

"We've done everything. There's a lot more to that story. I just hope they don't stop looking," Arians told reporters Friday.

Brown has been sidelined since the team's Week 6 win over the Philadelphia Eagles because of an ankle injury and was already expected to miss at least two more weeks before the suspension was announced, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Mark Maske of the Washington Post reported Brown originally submitted a fake vaccination card but is now "legitimately vaccinated."

He'll be eligible to return for the Buccaneers' Dec. 26 game against the Carolina Panthers, though Arians said "nothing has been decided" on Brown and Edwards' futures with the team following their suspensions.

Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, recorded 29 catches for 418 yards and four touchdowns in five games this season before suffering the ankle injury.