NFL Investigating After Video Shows Referees Ask Mike Evans for Autograph

by Nick Geddes
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

The NFL is reportedly reviewing video which appears to show two referees asking Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans for an autograph after Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

Moments after Tampa Bay’s 21-3 defeat, Evans was making his way to the locker room when side judge Jeff Lamberth and line judge Tripp Sutter called his name. Evans turned around and signed a piece of paper handed to him from the referees.

Per ESPN, the NFL and NFL Referees Association prohibits referees from asking players, coaches and team personnel for autographs or memorabilia, as it can give off the appearance of partiality. Under the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the NFL and NFLPA, officials are allowed to seek out autographs or memorabilia for charitable endeavors. Those requests, however, must be made through the league’s officiating department — not in person.

Lamberth is in his 21st season, while Sutter is in his fourth.

Ben Austro, author of “So You Think You Know Football?” said that the referees’ actions cannot be tolerated.

“Look, we are all football fans,” he tweeted. “But autograph seeking, even if in the tunnel, cannot be tolerated. SJ Jeff Lamberth (21st season) and LJ Tripp Sutter (4) know better. This may be the last season for Lamberth, but that’s no excuse to cross a line like this.”

Mike Evans Trolled for Epic Fail on Would-Be Touchdown Pass From Tom Brady

The Buccaneers (3-4) attempted to get out to a fast start in their Week 7 road matchup against the Carolina Panthers (2-5). They had not scored a first-quarter touchdown all season.

Cue a deep shot to Evans, something that has been lacking in the Buccaneers’ offense this season. The result was a wide-open Evans, just needing a perfect ball from Brady to walk in for six.

It was indeed a perfect ball, but Evans was unable to reel it in. Evans fantasy owners could only look away in disappointment.

The Buccaneers’ streak of not scoring a first quarter touchdown continued in the shocking loss to Carolina.