NEW ORLEANS — Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans has been suspended without pay for one game for his role in Sunday’s altercation with New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, the NFL announced Monday.
Evans was suspended for violating unnecessary and unsportsmanlike rules of conduct, the league said. Evans won’t be able to return until Sunday’s home opener against the Green Bay Packers.
Evans is allowed to appeal the suspension under the NFL collective bargaining agreement. If he appeals, the hearing will take place before Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, who have been jointly appointed by the league and the NFL Players Association to adjudicate player discipline appeals on the field.
Evans plans to appeal the suspension, sources told ESPN. The hearing will probably take place this week.
In a letter to Evans, NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan wrote: “After a game was over, you were walking towards your side. When you noticed your teammates were engaged in a confrontation with the Saints players, you ran towards this area on the field and violently threw your body into and struck an unsuspecting opponent who was part of this confrontation You knocked your opponent to the ground and a scrum ensued followed involving players from both teams. Your aggressive conduct could have caused serious injury to your opponent and clearly does not reflect the high standards of sportsmanship expected of a professional.”
Rule 13, Section 2, Article 8(g) prohibits “running, diving, cutting or throwing the body unnecessarily against or at a player who is out of play or who should not reasonably have anticipated such contact by an opponent , before or after the ball is dead.”
Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 prohibits any act “contrary to generally accepted principles of sportsmanship”.
No other players were suspended by the NFL on Monday.
This wasn’t Evans’ first suspension for a fight with Lattimore. In 2017, Evans was suspended for one game for running into the field and shoving Lattimore in the back.
On Sunday, Evans said he believed Lattimore punched running back Leonard Fournette in the face and pushed quarterback Tom Brady. He said he didn’t mind being suspended because he felt like 2017 was a more flagrant violation of the rules and he wasn’t kicked out at the time. But the NFL takes recidivism into account.
“He punched my teammate in the face. I just pushed him to the ground,” Evans said. “I was just trying to get my teammate’s back. All I saw was him punch someone in the face. I was like, ‘I’m not going to let that happen. ‘”
In 2020, Lattimore was fined $10,500 for unnecessary roughness for shoving Evans in the back, prompting Evans to rip off his helmet.
If Evans’ suspension continues, it would further exhaust a receiving corps already struggling with multiple injuries. The Buccaneers played Sunday without Chris Godwin and Julio Jones.
“We don’t want fights in our game because we lose a good player. It doesn’t help our team. We don’t tolerate that. We don’t teach that in our game,” the coach said Monday. Buccaneers, Todd Bowles. .
“The fights alone – losing a player for the next game hurts our team because we lose a very good ball player. We don’t want that, we don’t tolerate it. We have to move on and try to find a way to win without him. This should be a lesson for all our other players.”
Evans has been the Bucs’ team captain since 2017 and has been one of their most valuable players in franchise history since being selected seventh overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. He is the only player in NFL history to record 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first eight seasons. Evans watched the game in the locker room and greeted his teammates – including Brady – with a hug or a handshake in the tunnel after the win.
When asked how players can tell the difference between defending teammates and crossing unwanted territory, Bowles said: “It’s always a fine line. It’s a game of controlled aggression. … You try to protect your teammates but you have to do it the right way.”