By Brooks Roland
It’s no secret that NFL players have their share of perks. Lots of money. The adulation of adoring fans. Nice cars and homes. The fact that women want to be with them and guys want to be them. However, a lot of scrutiny accompanies those perks. In fact, thanks to social media, the 24-hour news cycle, and smartphone cameras, NFL players (and pro athletes in general) must deal with more scrutiny in today’s society than ever before.
So when TMZ released a video of Bucs rookie wide receiver Mike Evans getting into an altercation outside of a nightclub in Miami, social media was abuzz. It was the talk of Twitter for a few hours, and yes, I even indulged by tweeting out my two cents on the video. TMZ originally reported that the fight took place last Saturday night. However, Evans’s agent, Deryk Gilmore, told the Tampa Tribune that his client was involved in the fracas back in March, two months before being selected with the seventh overall pick of the NFL Draft by Tampa Bay.
I tend to believe Gilmore simply because the Bucs wrapped up their preseason game with the Miami Dolphins on Saturday night. The game ended around 11 pm. I find it hard to believe that Evans showered, changed, and took a short flight down to Miami to party on South Beach and get himself into trouble. Does Johnny Manziel even have that fast of a turnaround time when he’s planning one of his excursions to Las Vegas? I doubt it. Now if Mike Evans had actually bolted down to South Beach immediately after the game and got into a tussle, THAT would be a story in itself and would bring a lot of concerns about his maturity and dedication to playing football, especially during the preseason.
But as far as we know, this altercation happened back in March. It wasn’t a recent occurrence. NFL teams know EVERYTHING about players entering the draft, especially if they’re expected to be picked in the first round. I’d be very surprised if Bucs coach Lovie Smith and GM Jason Licht didn’t discuss this incident with Evans at some point during the evaluation process.
Now we obviously don’t like seeing anybody associated with the Buccaneers being involved in any sort of off-the-field trouble, especially since this franchise has had it’s share of those issues over the last five years. Mike Evans obviously put himself in a bad situation and he’s fortunate that he didn’t get hurt or end up in jail that night. We’ve all been young, stupid, and made mistakes. And yes, Evans has to realize that everything he does is going to be magnified due to his status as an NFL player. However, if he learned from this, keeps himself out of trouble, and lives up to his potential, this story will be a mere footnote in what Bucs fans hope is a productive career wearing the red and pewter.
Brooks Roland is the producer for Out of Bounds, Monday-Friday 7-10 pm on 98.7 The Fan. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrooksR987.