After Sunday’s game against Carolina Panthers, the NFL determined that two gameday officials didn’t request autographs from Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans.
The NFL released a statement Tuesday confirming that they had spoken with all parties involved and confirmed that there was no autograph request from the officials following the postgame interaction. Lamberth and Sutter were reminded that it is important to avoid any appearance of impropriety in interactions with players, coaches and staff members on gameday. This includes during pregame and postgame times.
After Carolina’s victory at home, 21-3, Week 7, the Buccaneers players were heading through the tunnel. Sheena Quick captured a moment in which side judge Lamberth stopped Evans and line judge Sutter as he headed towards the locker room. Evans turned around and can be heard being called by one of the officials. Lamberth was seen reaching for a pen and a piece of paper from Sutter, before he gave it to Evans. Evans then began to write on the document.
I didn’t know that refs receive autographs after the game. pic.twitter.com/4IgUHIiAgz
Sheena Quick (@Sheena_Marie3) October 23, 20,22
According to Tom Pelissero, the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Evans was only trying to improve his game of golf.
Sources say that WR Mike Evans and Jeff Lamberth were both at Texas A&M. Lamberth was obtaining Evans’ number so that he could pass it on to a pro golfer to give Evans lessons. Lamberth couldn’t find paper so he borrowed it form another official,” the tweet said.
Full story: #2Bucs Side judge Jeff Lamberth and Mike Evans both attended Texas A&M. Lamberth was obtaining Evans’ number so that he could pass it on to a professional golfer to give Evans lessons. Lamberth couldn’t find paper so he borrowed it from an official.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 25, 2022
USA TODAY Sports received an email Monday from Michael Signora, senior vice president of NFL football and international communications. He confirmed that the league was reviewing the matter. NFL Network reported the news Monday morning.
Lamberth asking for autographs would be in direct violation of the collective bargaining agreements between the NFL, the NFL Referees Association and the NFL. This agreement was ratified Sept. 28, 2019. The agreement states that members of officiating teams “shall not… ask players, coaches, or any other team personnel to autographs or memorabilia.”
This language is found in Appendix E Section IV of this document. It states that “Game officials must not appear to profit or personally benefit from their association with NFL, except for compensation under the NFLRA Collective Bargaining Agreement.”
Although the CBA allows officials to request autographs from players or memorabilia for charitable purposes, it requires that such requests be made through the league’s officiating division and not directly to any player or team employee.
Tuesday’s statement by the NFL was not complete and did not provide any further information about Lamberth or Sutter’s request.
According to Pro Football Reference, Lamberth was an official for 20 seasons starting in 2002 and ending with the 2011 season. Sutter is currently in his fourth season as an oficial and has been with league since 2019.
An email to the NFL Referees Association asking for comment was not returned immediately.
Evans was able to catch nine passes for 96 yards. However, he dropped a 64-yard touchdown in quarter one. He was wide open and had the pass glance off of his hands.
Golfweek has added reporting to this page.