Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette made a plea on social media amid Mike Evans’ suspension on Monday, September 19.
“Free Mike,” Fournette wrote on Twitter.
The NFL suspended Evans one game for an altercation with New Orleans Saints defensive back Marson Lattimore on Sunday, September 18. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the news, and Bucs head coach Todd Bowles confirmed it during Monday’s press conference.
Evans “plans to appeal” the suspension, according to source via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Lattimore didn’t get suspended.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported on Sunday that a suspension looked likely for both players because of their past history of altercations in games. During a locker roomer interview, Evans referenced their previous altercation in 2017 as defense for no suspension this time. He received a one-game suspension for that 2017 incident, too.
“It was terrible in 2017,” Evans told reporters. “I didn’t even get ejected [then], and that was really a cheap shot. This wasn’t. He punched my teammate in the face, and I just pushed him to the ground.”
On Sunday, the broadcast showed Lattimore confronting Fournette first and then Tom Brady before Fournette shoved Lattimore. Then, Lattimore shoved Fournette back before Evans knocked Lattimore to the ground as the melee erupted.
“It gets spicy when you come to New Orleans,” Evans told reporters. “And they’re a good team, physical team. We matched that today. I know we were like trying to get a flag called or whatever, and then it wasn’t called. All I see is Lattimore punch [Fournette] in the face or something like that and then pushed Tom. That’s all I saw.”
Evans pleaded his case to a referee and said what looked like “that’s Tom Brady, what you want me to do” per the broadcast.
On his way out, Evans pushed a camera and gave his football gloves to a fan. The broadcast clip went viral on social media.
“Super competitive. Today, he was just too emotional,” Evans told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington regarding Lattimore. “You don’t throw punches at guys on the field. He threw a punch at Lenny, and I can’t let that happen to my teammates. So, I shoved him … turned into a brawl.”
Fournette, Brady Voice Thoughts on Evans Incident
Fournette, who was close to the altercation, didn’t want to elaborate on details afterward when reporters talked with him. He referred to watching the replay instead.
“It’s football, you know,” Fournette said. “Emotions get involved. Should never have happened, but it is what it is.”
Brady didn’t want to dwell on Evans’ altercation afterward either. Brady called it “an emotional game” and deflected it as a motive for the Bucs’ fourth-quarter turnaround.
Evans and Brady connected quickly after the game as Brady left the field. The Bucs social media team shared a couple of the moments on Twitter.
Bucs Could Be Shorthanded vs. Packers
With Evans’ suspension, that could leave the Bucs without their top three receivers for Week 3 against the Green Bay Packers on September 25.
The Bucs sat star receivers Julio Jones and Chris Godwin against the Saints, and there’s no guarantee either will play against the Packers. Brady will need to rely on Russell Gage, Breshad Perriman, and Scotty Miller if Godwin, Jones, and Evans can’t play.