NFL to Investigate Referees Seeking Autograph of Star Player

The NFL is looking into a video that apparently shows two referees in uniform asking for an autograph from a star player, according to ESPN. The video, which was captured by 1340 AM Fox Sports, shows side judge Jeff Lamberth and line judge Tripp Sutter approaching Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans to get autographs after the team lost to the Carolina Panthers 21-3. This led to some interesting reactions on social media. 

"People working games should not ask for autographs for multiple reasons, including perceived bias," one fan wrote. "Additionally you are there to do your job, not to e a fan and use your access for photos or autographs." There were some fans who didn't see a problem with it. 

"So it's the same energy as trading jerseys. Refs love the game too and love the players," another fan said. "I mean would have been suspect to see had calls looked bad but this was a clean game. It is what it is." ESPN noted that the NFL and NFL Referees Association bar officials from approaching players, coaches and NFL team personnel for autographs. However, officials can get autographs, team merchandise and memorabilia for charitable reasons, but requests like those have to be made through the NFL's officiating department. Lamberth is in his 21st season in the NFL and Sutter is in his fourth. 

Evans finished the day with nine receptions for 96 yards. But the 29-year-old is blaming himself for the loss because he dropped an easy touchdown pass early in the first quarter that could have set the tone for the rest of the game. Right now, the Buccaneers are 3-4 on the year but are still in first place in the NFC South. 

"This is going to be a big test for us. We'll see where we're at. We'll see what we're made of," Evans said, per ESPN. "We've been here before. Some of us have been here through the real tough times. We know how to keep playing, and that's what we have to do. This one's going to hurt. We'll do the 24-hour rule. And we've got to get ready for Thursday [against the Baltimore Ravens]. ... Luckily we're playing Thursday. We have to win it."