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 roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct rules, the league said. Evans will not be eligible to return until after Sunday’s home opener against the Green Bay Packers.
Evans is allowed to appeal the suspension under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement. If he does appeal, the hearing will be before either Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, who have been jointly appointed by the league and the NFL Players Association to rule on appeals of on-field player discipline.
Evans plans to appeal the suspension, sources told ESPN. The hearing will likely take place this week.
In a letter to Evans, NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan wrote, “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.”
Rule 13, Section 2, Article 8 (g) prohibits “unnecessarily running, diving into, cutting, or throwing the body against or on a player who is out of the play or should not have reasonably anticipated such contact by an opponent, before or after the ball is dead.”
Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 prohibits any act that is “contrary to the generally understood principles of sportsmanship.”
The NFL reviewed all players involved — including Lattimore — and believes the fight would not have escalated if not for Evans’ involvement. The NFL is also reviewing actions of other players for potential fines.
This was not Evans’ first suspension for a scuffle with Lattimore. In 2017, Evans was suspended for one game for running onto 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 wasn’t concerned about being suspended because he felt like 2017 was a more flagrant violation of the rules and he wasn’t ejected at the time. But the NFL does take into consideration repeat offenses.
“He punched my teammate in the face. I just pushed him to the ground,” Evans said. “I just was trying to have my teammate’s back. All I seen was he punched somebody in the face. I was like, ‘I ain’t 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 his helmet off.
“We don’t want any fighting in our game because we lose a good player,” Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles said Monday. “It doesn’t help our team. We don’t condone that. We don’t teach that in our game.
“The fighting alone — loses a player for the next game, it hurts our team because we lose a very good ballplayer. We don’t want that, we don’t condone it. We’ve got to move forward and try to find a way to win without him. That should be a lesson to all our other players.”
Evans has been a team captain for the Bucs since 2017, and he has been one of their most valuable players in franchise history since he was 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 teammates — including Brady — with a hug or handshake in the tunnel after the victory.
When asked how players can toe the line between sticking up for teammates and crossing over into unwanted territory, Bowles said, “It’s always a fine line. This is a controlled aggression game. … You try to protect your teammates, but you’ve got to do it the right way.”