GREEN BAY, Wis. – The one-game suspension to Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans has been upheld, meaning he will not be on the field for Sunday’s showdown against the Green Bay Packers.
Evans was suspended for his role in a fight at the New Orleans Saints. The original ruling was made by Jon Runyan Sr., the NFL’s vice president of football operations and the father of Packers starting left guard Jon Runyan Jr. The suspension was upheld by former NFL receiver James Thrash, who was jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA.
The Buccaneers could be extremely short-handed at receiver, which is why the Bucs went from 2.5-point favorites to 1.5-point favorites with the suspension locked in.
“Not much," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said of what changes prep-wise without Evans. "We’ve got enough to worry about. They’ve got a lot of playmakers over there and, really, in every phase, great coaches. It’s going to be a great challenge. We only worry about the things that we can control. That’s totally out of our control, so it doesn’t impact us at all.”
Evans is the only receiver in NFL history to start his career with eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. He leads all active players with 76 receiving touchdowns. Chris Godwin, who had 1,333 receiving yards in 2019 and 1,103 receiving yards in 2021, successfully came back from a torn ACL but was inactive last week with a hamstring injury. Julio Jones, who leads all active players with 10,662 receiving yards, was inactive last week with a knee injury.
The Bucs do have Russell Gage, who they signed in free agency after back-to-back seasons of 72 and 66 receptions with Atlanta, former first-round pick Breshad Perriman, who scored last week against the Saints, and Cole Beasley, who they signed on Tuesday. The 33-year-old slot receiver had 82 receptions each of the last two seasons with Buffalo.
In the announcement of Evans’ suspension on Monday, Runyan Sr. cited Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8(g), which 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,” as well as Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1, which prohibits any act that is “contrary to the generally understood principles of sportsmanship.”
On Sunday at New Orleans, Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady and New Orleans cornerback Marshon Lattimore exchanged some words. Bucs running back Leonard Fournette got between them, with Fournette and Lattimore shoving each other. Evans than raced from the sideline and blasted Lattimore.
In informing Evans of the decision, 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.”
Evans’ agent was not happy.