After appeal, the NFL will not be taking the side of Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ wide receiver Mike Evans. It was announced Wednesday that they will uphold the one game suspension and Mike Evans will miss the week three matchup - and Bucs home opener - against the Green Bay Packers.
In the fourth quarter of week two in New Orleans, Mike Evans ran up to and shoved New Orleans Saints’ cornerback Marshon Lattimore after Lattimore was in a verbal altercation with Bucs quarterback Tom Brady. Leonard Fournette stepped in-between Lattimore and Brady and pushed Lattimore back, sparking a hit to the chin on Fournette from Lattimore which is when Evans inserted himself into the altercation and shoving Lattimore.
This isn’t the first time Evans and Lattimore have gotten into a physical altercation. Back in 2017, then Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was involved in a confrontation with Lattimore. Evans then ran off the sideline and blindsided Lattimore. Evans was suspended for one game for the incident.
Part of the decision was surely that Evans is considered a “repeat offender” and that this incident also involved the same player as 2017. In a statement issuing the suspension, Jon Runyan said “After a play had ended, you were walking toward your sidelines. When you noticed your teammates engaged in a confrontation with Saints’ players, you ran toward that area on the field and violently threw your body into and struck an unsuspecting opponent who was part of that confrontation. You knocked your opponent to the ground and a melee ensued 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.”
While a suspension was warranted, it’s easy to make the case that one for Lattimore was warranted as well. In the above statement, Runyan pointed out that Evans was headed to the sideline before returning to engage in a physical confrontation. At the same time, Lattimore was headed to his sideline before turning back to go towards Brady, causing Fournette to interject. Either way, the only suspension handed out from the melee was to Evans who now misses a marquee matchup that will likely have playoff implications down the road.
The Bucs were likely already without Chris Godwin and there’s no word as of yet regarding Julio Jones’ status. Godwin is dealing with a hamstring injury while Jones was a game time decision against the Saints before being listed as inactive with a knee injury. Now, Tom Brady will look to Russell Gage, Breshad Perriman, Scotty Miller, and possibly newly acquired Cole Beasley to help them get a win against the Packers.
Evans’ representative Deryk Gilmore released a statement saying, “We are disappointed the league upheld the suspension when there are several arguments of players doing more egregious violations including: punching, kicking, and choking players and not being suspended. In addition, Evans had already been ejected which is penalty enough, but the league chose to discipline him even more. This is unfortunate but we will respect the league’s decision.”
Obviously, many Bucs fans throw Rams’ defensive tackle Aaron Donald out as an example. Donald choked an opposing player in last year’s playoffs then had an altercation with the Cincinnati Bengals during joint practices where Donald used a helmet as a weapon, swinging it and hitting players. Neither of these infractions resulted in a suspension by the league.