Officials Jeff Lamberth and Trip Sutter Did Not Ask For Mike Evans Autograph, According To NFL Investigation

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

The National Football League conducted an investigation into side judge Jeff Lamberth and line judge Trip Sutter. Lamberth and Sutter were both caught on video walking up to Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans after getting his attention. Evans was then handed a pen and slip of paper to sign something. Under the NFL-NFLRA collective bargaining agreement (CBA), game officials are not permitted to “ask players, coaches or any other team personnel for autographs or memorabilia.”

After league investigation, the two field officials were found innocent of the initial accusations. A statement was released from the NFL, explaining that the officials did not ask for Evans autograph.

“After speaking with the individuals involved, we have confirmed that the postgame interaction between [side judge] Jeff Lamberth, [line judge] Tripp Sutter, and Mike Evans did not involve a request by the game officials for an autograph. Both Lamberth and Sutter have been reminded of the importance of avoiding even the appearance of impropriety when interacting with players, coaches, and club staff on game day — including during the pregame and postgame time periods.”

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network states that the incident was actually the officials obtaining Evans’ phone number in order to pass it along to a pro golfer. Evans was reportedly seeking golfing lessons. Lamberth and Evans are both former students of Texas A and M. The wide receiver confirmed Pelissero’s report when asked about the situation, and openly denied the allegations of impropriety.

“I wasn’t signing an autograph, I’ll tell you that. I talk to a lot of officials. We’re all human beings. He’s a nice guy. We were just talking about golf.”

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on a short week this week, preparing to take on Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans is going into Thursday with a small injury, after getting tangled up with a Panthers defender inside the Panthers 10-yard line in the fourth quarter. Bucs fell to 3-4 after its shocking 21-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, a game the Bucs were coming into as 13-point favorites after the Panthers traded away star running back Christian McCaffery to the San Francisco 49ers.

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