A postgame interaction between two game officials and Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans did not involve a request for an autograph, the NFL said in a statement Tuesday.
After the Buccaneers lost 21-3 on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, 1:40 p.m. Video captured by Fox Sports of side judge Jeff Lamberth and linesman Tripp Sutter calling Evans’ name. Evans then wrote something on a card they gave him.
The collective agreement between the NFL and the NFL Referees Association prohibits game officials from approaching players and coaches for autographs, citing the appearance of bias. Officials may request autographs and memorabilia for charitable purposes, but such requests must go through the league’s referee department.
After conversations with those involved, however, the league determined that Lamberth and Sutter were not asking for autographs. The league didn’t say why they called Evans or what was said during the interaction. In response to a follow-up question, an NFL spokesperson said the league had no further details to share.
A request for comment from the NFLRA was not immediately returned.
The NFL statement made no mention of discipline for either official, but the league added: “Lamberth and Sutter were reminded of the importance of avoiding even the appearance of impropriety. when interacting with players, coaches and club staff on match day – including during the pre-match and post-match periods.”
Lamberth is in his 21st NFL season and Sutter is in his fourth.