That viral NFL player/official ‘autograph’ video? It reportedly involved… golf lessons?

Mike Evans with two officials after the Bucs' loss on Sunday.

Mike Evans with two officials after the Bucs' loss on Sunday.


A video went viral after the Carolina Panthers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21-3 on Sunday, which showed two game officials hand a paper and pen to Tampa Bay receiver Mike Evans. The public was outraged, as it appeared the officials asked an NFL star for an autograph — a major no-no in professional sports.

The video showed side judge Jeff Lamberth and line judge Tripp Sutter call Evans’ name in the tunnel. Evans then wrote something on a card they handed him. There are rules against NFL referees approaching players for autographs, although they can obtain them for charitable purposes, but that must be done through the league. This wasn’t that.

So, what happened?

The NFL investigated the situation and said it did not involve an autograph request, but added in a statement “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.”

The NFL, however, didn’t say what the purpose of the exchange was, but one NFL reporter got an answer.

According to NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero, who cited sources, Lamberth was getting Evans’ phone number to give it to a golf pro who could give Evans lessons. Lamberth didn’t have paper handy, so that’s where Sutter came in. He supplied that to the duo. Pelissero added that Evans and Lamberth both went to Texas A&M.

Rick Stroud, who covers the Bucs for the Tampa Bay Times, also confirmed it was a phone number Evans passed along.

So there you have it. Golf lessons. Oh, and if Evans is interested, here’s a list of our Top 100 Teachers in America.


Josh Berhow Editor

As’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at