It’s good to be skeptical about the various things that can corrupt a decision-making process. However, at times the effort to spot potential conflicts of interest can run amok.
That’s exactly what happened with the suspension of Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans.
The initial decision was made by former NFL player Jon Runyan. His son plays for the Packers. The Packers play the Buccaneers on Sunday. Obviously, it helps the Packers if Evans doesn’t play.
And so a notion emerged on Monday that Jon Sr. would do Jon Jr. a favor by suspending Evans. The crackpot theory gained some legitimacy when Schefty actually dignified it with a mention during halftime of the Vikings-Eagles game.
Although I usually love a nice, juicy controversy, this is a non-issue. As previously explained, Jon Sr. consults with others in the league office. Also, and far more importantly, the decision made by the league office is subject to appeal. If a suspension wasn’t warranted, James Thrash could have, and would have, come to that conclusion.
On Wednesday, Jon Runyan Jr. addressed the idea that dad did him a solid.
“He was just doing his job,” Runyan Jr. said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “He’s been doing that job for over a half-decade now. 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.”
Runyan Jr. seems to agree with his dad (and Thrash) that Evans deserved to be suspended.
“[It was a] lapse in judgment on the field,” Runyan Jr. said. “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.”
Runyan Jr. addressed the situation perfectly. The play was over. The whistle had blown. Evans sprinted in from the edge of the field and blasted Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore. It was a dangerous and unnecessary maneuver. It was beyond the boundaries of the actual play on the field. Evans got what he deserved.
And the Runyans don’t deserve being on the wrong end of a stupid theory that deflects attention on the wrongdoing of the guilty party by pointing a finger at someone else and making something out of nothing.