Green Bay guard Jon Runyan Jr. has spoken out in defense of his NFL executive father, who suspended Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans for fighting ahead of Sunday’s Packers-Buccaneers game.
Runyan Sr., who heads the NFL’s rules and policy administration, gave Evans a one-game ban for his on-field fight in last Sunday’s win over the New Orleans Saints. Evans appealed, but the ban was upheld by NFL appeals officer James Thrash. Both Thrash and Runyan Sr. previously played for the Philadelphia Eagles, while the latter also served as a US congressman from New Jersey from 2011 until 2015.
Runyan Jr., the Packers left guard, was asked about the ban on Wednesday, but dismissed any conspiracy theories about Evans’s suspension, saying that his father ‘was just doing his job.’
‘He’s been doing that job for over a half-decade now,’ Runyan Jr. told reporters. ‘It just so happens that we’re playing the Buccaneers this week. Everybody’s trying to make it this conspiracy theory, which it’s not.’
The incident occurred after a third-down incompletion, when Saints defensive back Marshon Lattimore began jawing at Bucs quarterback Tom Brady.
Officially, Evans is in violation of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8(g) which prohibits ‘unnecessarily running, diving into, cutting, or throwing the body against or on a player who is out of the play or should not have reasonably anticipated such contact by an opponent, before or after the ball is dead.’
He also violated Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 which prohibits any act which is ‘contrary to the generally understood principles of sportsmanship.’ Evans was previously suspended in 2017 for another altercation involving Lattimore.
‘My dad’s doing his job,’ Runyan Jr. continued. ‘[It was a] lapse in judgment on the field. Sometimes, that stuff happens. There’s a whole conspiracy theory going down, and it’s not true. That’s just how it goes. You can’t be running 15 yards trying to head-hunt somebody when the play’s over. It is funny, though, how stuff works out sometimes.’
In a letter to Evans, Runyan Sr. wrote: ‘After a play had ended, you were walking toward your sidelines. When you noticed your teammates engaged in a confrontation with Saints’ players, you ran toward that area on the field and violently threw your body into and struck an unsuspecting opponent who was part of that confrontation.
‘You knocked your opponent to the ground and a melee ensued involving players from both teams,’ continued Runyan, a former NFL offensive lineman. ‘Your aggressive conduct could have caused serious injury to your opponent and clearly does not reflect the high standards of sportsmanship expected of a professional.’
Like his father, Runyan Jr. played collegiately at Michigan. He was a sixth-round pick in 2020, but has since carved out a starting role for himself in Green Bay.