Oct 23, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) is hit as he makes a catch by Carolina Panthers cornerback Keith Taylor Jr. (28) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

NFL: Officials were not seeking Mike Evans’ autograph

NFL officials Jeff Lamberth and Tripp Sutter were not seeking the autograph of Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans when they crossed paths in the postgame tunnel Sunday.

The NFL said Tuesday following an investigation into the matter that there was no violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibiting referees and game officials from “asking players, coaches or any other team personnel for autographs or memorabilia.”

Video of both game officials stopping and handing a small piece of white paper to Evans minutes after the Buccaneers’ loss to the Carolina Panthers went viral on social media.

NFL investigators began talking to the Buccaneers and the officiating crew Monday.

“After speaking with the individuals involved, we have confirmed that the postgame interaction between Jeff Lambert, Tripp Sutter and Mike Evans did not involve a request by the game officials for an autograph,” the NFL said. “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 gameday– including during the pregame and postgame time periods.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) on the field before the game against the San Francisco 49ers in a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dak Prescott apologizes for ref comment after Cowboys’ loss

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott apologized Tuesday for postgame remarks that appeared to support Cowboys fans who threw trash at referees after the team’s playoff loss Sunday.

“I deeply regret the comments I made regarding the officials after the game on Sunday,” Prescott said in a series of social media posts. “I was caught up in the emotion of a disappointing loss and my words were uncalled for and unfair.

“I hold the NFL Officials in the highest regard and have always respected their professionalism and the difficulty of their jobs. The safety of everyone who attends a game or participates on the field of a sporting event is a very serious matter. That was a mistake on my behalf, and I am sorry.”

Prescott’s Cowboys lost to the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 in their wild-card matchup. The Cowboys, who were driving at the end of the game with no timeouts left, ran out of time to get off one more play because an official needed to touch the ball before the snap.

Some Dallas fans threw garbage onto to the field in protest. Cowboys defensive lineman Demarcus Lawrence held up his helmet to block an incoming bottle as he left the field.

In his postgame press conference, Prescott said it was “sad” that fans were throwing trash at the team. But when a reporter said the trash was aimed at the officiating crew as it left the field, the quarterback responded, “Credit to them, then. Yeah. Credit to them.”

Earlier Tuesday, the National Basketball Referees Association spoke out, calling for the NFL to “take action” in light of Prescott’s remark.

“The NBRA condemns the comments by Dak Prescott condoning violence against game officials,” the statement read. “As an NFL leader, he should know better. We encourage the NFL to take action to discourage this deplorable behavior in the future.”

The NFL Referees Association, however, has made no such statement.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA;  NFL referee Jerome Boger (23) in action during the fourth quarter of the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. The Chiefs won 42-37. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

First all-Black officiating crew to work Monday night

For the first time in NFL history, an all-Black officiating crew will work next Monday night’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and Buccaneers in Tampa.

Referee Jerome Boger will lead the historic crew, which includes umpire Barry Anderson, down judge Julian Mapp, line judge Carl Johnson, side judge Dale Shaw, field judge Anthony Jeffries and back judge Greg Steed.

“This historic Week 11 crew is a testament to the countless and immeasurable contributions of Black officials to the game, their exemplary performance, and to the power of inclusion that is the hallmark of this great game,” NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said.

The NFL normally assembles its 17 officiating crews prior to the season and works to keep them together in order to promote teamwork and communication. The crews were organized geographically this year to reduce travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All of the officials for the Monday night game are regular members of Boger’s crew except for Johnson and Steed, who were pulled from other crews.

–Field Level Media