NFL suspends Buccaneers’ Mike Evans for one game after Sunday’s fight

The NFL suspended Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans for one game for his role in an on-field scuffle with Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore on Sunday in New Orleans.

Evans’s suspension is without pay and would keep him out of the Buccaneers’ home game this Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, barring a successful appeal of the penalty.

Evans is planning to appeal the suspension, according to a person familiar with the situation. The case will be resolved by one of the appeals officers for on-field discipline jointly appointed by the league and the NFL Players Association. Former NFL players James Thrash and Derrick Brooks serve as the appeals officers, and such appeals generally are resolved quickly to determine the affected player’s availability for that week’s game.

The NFL announced Evans’s suspension Monday, citing violations of the league’s unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct rules. Jon Runyan, the league’s vice president of football operations, issued the suspension, according to the league.

“After a play had ended, you were walking toward your sidelines,” Runyan wrote to Evans, according to the NFL’s announcement. “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.”

The NFL did not suspend Lattimore on Monday, but he could be fined.

The sequence began with Tom Brady jawing at Lattimore after the Buccaneers quarterback threw an incomplete pass. When the Saints cornerback responded verbally, Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette shoved him. Lattimore returned the shove, at which point Evans sprinted over and sent Lattimore sprawling with a two-handed push, setting off a fracas between the two teams.

Evans and Lattimore were ejected from Sunday’s game, a 20-10 victory for the Buccaneers that improved their record to 2-0.

Evans also was suspended for one game by the league in 2017 for shoving Lattimore to the turf during a game. During that game, also in New Orleans, Evans ran up from behind and bashed the cornerback after Lattimore gave then-Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston a shove.

Evans said after Sunday’s game that he did not expect to be suspended this time.

“In 2017, I didn’t even get ejected, and that was really a cheap shot,” he told reporters. “This wasn’t. He punched my teammate in the face, and I just pushed him to the ground.”

Replays of the incident appeared to show Lattimore delivering a shove to Fournette, not a punch. But Evans claimed he saw “something like that,” plus a shove of Brady, when he decided to retaliate.

“I was just trying to have my teammates’ back,” he said. “All I seen is him punch somebody in the face, and I’m like, ‘I ain’t gonna let that happen.’ ”

“It gets spicy when you come to New Orleans,” the ninth-year wide receiver added.

Brady called the suspension “ridiculous” on his weekly “Let’s Go!” podcast.

Noting that Evans “was the first one to push and shove Lattimore,” Saints Coach Dennis Allen said Sunday: “I’ve been around this league long enough. Usually they don’t get the instigator. They usually get the responder. I think what happened after that was a little bit excessive. So we will see how that goes.”

Buccaneers Coach Todd Bowles said after the game that he “didn’t see the whole thing,” adding: “I just saw a lot of pushing and shoving and flags flying. And then the next thing I know, everybody was storming the field. We lost a good player and they lost a good player. It was a physical ballgame.”

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