CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The NFL said it is looking into what transpired between two game officials and Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans in the tunnel of Bank of America Stadium after the Buccaneers’ 21-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
A reporter captured a video of side judge Jeff Lamberth and line judge Tripp Sutter approaching Evans as he is making his way toward the locker room.
There is a short inaudible exchange between the game officials and Evans, before the player turns around and is handed a slip of paper. A second video posted by a reporter from 1340 AM Fox Sports appears to show Evans writing something as Lamberth stood next to him while Tampa Bay players walked past them to the locker room.
According to the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Referees Association game officials are not allowed to “ask players, coaches or any other team personnel for autographs or memorabilia.”
In addition, game officials are not allowed “to sell or trade NFL tickets for anything of greater value than the face value of the tickets” or “sell or trade for anything of value NFL merchandise, autographs or memorabilia.”
The CBA goes on to stipulate that they recognize game officials may need to obtain player autographs or team merchandise or memorabilia for personal or charitable purposes, but said that such requests should be made through the officiating department and never to a player or team employee directly.
Lamberth is in his 20th season as an NFL official, while Sutter in his fourth.
It's unclear what, if any, potential punishments the game officials could face if they received an autograph from Evans.
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