The 5-year-old boy heard Antonio Brown’s name, looked up from his donut, and said, “Isn’t he the one who took his shirt off and threw it into the crowd at the game?” Then he shook his head and took another bite.

This was last weekend, in a coffee shop in Morrisville, Pa., and it served as a shocking reminder that everything we adults do impacts the children around us.

Kids especially watch their heroes. Kids listen. Hopefully, kids know better.

Brown’s sideline antics after refusing to enter the Buccaneers’ game Jan. 2 made the headlines of every website and newspaper, led highlight shows, and provided endless talk radio fodder. It wasn’t close to being the worst thing Brown did this season.

Brown submitted a fake COVID-19 vaccination card before the season began. His was the worst COVID violation since the beginning of the pandemic. Aaron Rodgers’ vaccination lie, which preceded Brown’s case, was the most newsworthy — until Tuesday.

That’s when tennis superstar Novak Djokovic admitted that he’d misled the Australian government about his COVID status in order to pursue his record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title at that country’s Open tennis tournament. It’s also when a report surfaced questioning the validity of Djokovic’s COVID tests last month — a report that indicates both manipulation of the results and false statements concerning when the tests occurred.

This is more than simple selfishness. It’s willful disregard for the greater good. Athletes tend to be narcissists, but this is the worst sort of narcissism. It is narcissism that justifies lack of decency, a lack of community, and lack of kindness.

One of the core tenets of sport is teamwork. No one has forced Rodgers, Brown or Djokovic to get vaccinated. Unlike many workers, they can earn their living while endangering those around them and denying the science that proves it is the unvaccinated who are prolonging this pandemic, now entering its third year. Even after 850,000 Americans and 5.5 million people worldwide have died from COVID-19, these three can’t even be bothered to follow the same rules as their peers. They believe that, if they disagree with rules and laws, rules and laws should not apply to them. Like their literary heroes, they see virtue in selfishness.

Which, of course, proves their lack of virtue. These are people our children admire. For shame.

Degrees of dishonesty

Brown violated protocols daily, exposing himself to teammates and staff and bus drivers and hotel clerks and acting off-site with the liberties allowed only vaccinated players. The NFL suspended Brown three games. He has since been dismissed from the team for disobeying his coaches during a game, then disrobing upon his exit.

Brown’s fraud came to light after a bigger story dropped in the NFL.

Rodgers, the reigning MVP, led the public to believe he’d been vaccinated. Then he contracted COVID and was revealed to have not been vaccinated. The Packers knew he wasn’t vaccinated, so they were fined $300,000 for allowing him to violate protocols. Rodgers was fined $14,650 for attending a Halloween party, which violated protocols for unvaccinated players outside the team facility.

This week, an even bigger story involving fraud, unthruths, and irresponsibility unfolded on the eve of the Australian Open.

Joker’s a joke

Let’s try to untangle this web of lies.

Djokovic, the world’s best tennis player, is not vaccinated.

He’d been exposed to COVID-positive friends at a basketball game Dec. 14 in his native Serbia. He took a PCR test Dec. 16 and learned it was positive that night. Nevertheless, he attended a tennis event Dec. 17 in Belgrade and presented awards to children, thus exposing them to COVID. He claims he didn’t know that he’d tested positive — the day before.

On Dec. 18, Djokovic admitted he knew he’d tested positive. Nevertheless, he participated that day in a scheduled newspaper interview and photo shoot. He says he wore a mask. This, of course, is hard to believe.

Based on social media posts, Djokovic also appears to have traveled from Serbia to Spain just before he went to Australia. Djokovic’s travel declaration states that he had not traveled to any other country besides the country of his flight’s origin within a 14-day period. Incredibly, he blamed that lie on an assistant.

Djokovic arrived in Melbourne to defend his Open title, which he has won nine times. Australia requires proof of vaccination to enter its borders, but Djokovic had obtained an exemption due to his recent infection.

Border officials canceled his visa because the exemption only applies to COVID victims who get severely ill; Djokovic said he was largely asymptomatic. Djokovic was detained in an immigration hotel for four days. Finally, a sympathetic judge ruled Monday that it was not Djokovic’s fault that the visa was improperly issued and allowed him to start preparing for the Open, which begins this coming Monday.

But did Djokovic ever really test positive, or did he manipulate results to fraudulently obtain the exemption? The German news website Der Spiegel checked his test results this past Monday and found that he had, in fact, tested negative. They checked again an hour later and found that, miraculously, he’d actually tested positive. Further, the test dates make no sense; his positive test has an identification number 50,000 higher than his negative test, though Djokovic’s lawyers say he tested negative six days after he tested positive. If this were the case, the negative test’s number would be higher than the positive test’s number. Not surprisingly, about 50,000 tests were conducted between the dates of Djokovic’s tests.

All of this incriminating news surfaced after the judge’s ruling.

Do the right thing

Even without it, the Australian government has the power to deport Djokovic if the government believes Djokovic poses a risk to public health. They also can ban him from Australia — and, by association, the Open — for three years.

Desperate to sway public opinion and influence the Australian government’s stance, Djokovic issued a vague, contradictory statement via Instagram on Wednesday, but the statement did not at all clarify the discrepancies between his claims and reported evidence.

The Aussie government faces pressure from the tennis and TV industries to overlook Djokovic’s disregard for its laws and protocols, but it has more than just the power to deport and ban him. It has the duty to deport and ban him.

Rodgers lost cash. Brown lost three game checks. The Joker should lose more than just face.

There should be consequences.

Even children know this.