In issuing the one-game suspension, NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan pointed to Evans’s violation of the league rule prohibiting unsportsmanlike conduct, including “any act which is contrary to the generally understood principles of sportsmanship,” such as “throwing a punch, or a forearm, or kicking at an opponent.” Another rule Runyan cited declares that “there shall be no unnecessary roughness. This shall include, but will not be limited to: (g) unnecessarily running, diving into, cutting or throwing the body against or on a player who (1) is out of the play or (2) should not have reasonably anticipated such contact by an opponent, before or after the ball is dead.”
“During the third quarter, after a play had ended, you struck an unsuspecting opponent in the back, knocking him to the ground,” Runyan said in a letter to Evans. “Your conduct clearly did not reflect the high standards of sportsmanship expected of a professional.”
Left unclear is how Green’s conduct was not considered to have violated those rules, at least in terms of meriting a similar suspension. After all, while Evans knocked Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore to the ground and then jumped on him, Green grabbed Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey around the neck from behind, then threw a couple of punches at his antagonist. For comparison, here is video of the two incidents:
After his game Sunday, the normally mild-mannered Green expressed regret over his actions, saying, “I should have just walked off in that whole situation. It got the best of me today. But I’ll definitely learn from the experience. It’s never going to happen again.”
“Whatever my punishment is, I accept it,” Green added at the time, but while he may still be fined, it appears he won’t be punished as harshly as possible.
Evans may well bring up that apparent discrepancy when he makes his expected appeal of the suspension. If his appeal fails, though, he will miss Tampa Bay’s Week 10 game against the Jets.
That would be a major blow for the struggling Bucs, who are in last place in the NFC South at 2-6 and have lost quarterback Jameis Winston for at least two weeks to a lingering shoulder injury. The 24-year-old Evans is arguably the team’s best offensive player, a big-bodied weapon who was named to the NFL’s all-rookie team in 2014 and was selected for the Pro Bowl last year.
As such, both Evans and the Bucs would almost certainly have preferred that he had simply gotten thrown out of Sunday’s game, given that when he attacked Lattimore, Tampa Bay was already losing by 27 and would go on to a 30-10 defeat. Now the team will find it that much more difficult to break a five-game losing streak this Sunday, particularly against a 4-5 Jets team playing better than almost anyone expected.
According to reports, Ramsey, who was also ejected, will not be suspended, either. Nor will the 49ers’ Carlos Hyde and the Cardinals’ Frostee Rucker and Haason Reddick, who were thrown out of Sunday’s San Francisco-Arizona game. But all of those players, as with Green, may still be fined.
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