Mike Evans, A Football, A Bucs Fan, Packers Security And An Unlocked Gate

December 24th, 2023

Bucs SuperFan “JayBuc,” Mike Evans and Evans’ touchdown ball from the win over Green Bay. (Photo courtesy of Jamal Sanders.)

So we all saw what happened last week when Mike Evans gave a Bucs fan the ball from his touchdown catch in Green Bay. And the hassle that followed.

Shortly after referees raised their arms to signal touchdown, Joe started getting texts about how the Packers security guard was taking the ball away from the Bucs fan and how that was wrong.

Joe wasn’t the only one who said “Wow.” So too did a lot of NFL fans, as the game was broadcast live to about half the country last week.

Even Joe’s good friend Mike Tanier of The Messenger and the New York Times saw the incident and wrote about it.

Well, Joe caught up with the fan and found out the story.

The fan’s name is Jamal Sanders. He’s a hardcore Bucs fan. Has been since he was little.

Jamal Sanders aka “JayBuc.”

(Sanders told Joe that when he was a kid in the 1980s when the Bucs were terrible, at a Sunday church service the minister had kids like him come up and the minister asked each youngster what they would ask God for. Sanders said one boy asked God to help his father who is in prison. Another girl asked God for help with her mother’s battle with cancer. Sanders said when it was his turn, he told the minister he would ask God to help the Bucs just win a game.)

Sanders goes by the handle of “JayBuc525” on Twitter, or just plain JayBuc away from social media. Some refer to him as “JayBoogie,” and he admitted to Joe he now has a third nickname as Tanier referred to him in a column as a “pirate gargoyle.”

During the day, JayBuc is a mental health counselor. During gamedays he transforms from a mild-mannered professional into a SuperFan, wearing pirate regalia. JayBuc estimates he’s been to 57 Bucs road games in the past decade including London and Munich.

So about that incident in Green Bay you ask? It was all innocent. And yes, JayBuc did get to keep the ball and the story has a happy ending, much happier than JayBuc ever imagined.

JayBuc said he likes to sit in end zones, preferably behind the goalposts because he’s used to that view (JayBuc said he sits in Section 122, Row L, Seats 1-2 which are end zone seats — and he invites Bucs to come say hi). He got two tickets to the Bucs-Packers on Ticketmaster, fifth row on an aisle seat. JayBuc says he likes aisle seats so he can jump around without causing much of a commotion for nearby fans.

“I’m not stationary at the game,” JayBuc said. “When we’re on defense I’m standing up and when he score, I’m standing up.”

When the Bucs had the ball on the Packers-19 early in the second quarter heading for the end zone where JayBuc was sitting, he turned to his cousin and told him he was going to race to the bottom of the aisle if Evans caught a touchdown. JayBuc knows Evans has a tradition of giving away the ball to a Bucs fan on his touchdowns.

The second JayBuc said that, he looked up and saw Evans streaking for the end zone. He noticed Baker Mayfield had already released the pass. It was coming!

Sure enough, Evans caught the ball for a score. JayBuc was so excited that as soon as he noticed the ball was targeting Evans in the end zone, he started running down the stairs, hoping to be the first Bucs fan Evans noticed. His red Super Bowl jacket stuck out among the dark green-wearing Packers fans.

Then, it happened. JayBuc, as part of his Bucs pirate costume (?) wears big, huge red boots. They look to Joe like snowboots. It’s part of his pirate getup. Because of that, while trying to run to the front row, JayBuc stumbled forward.

JayBuc planned to lean over the yellow gate at the bottom of the stairs to both hold him up from falling, and to lean over to try to get the ball from Evans. Problem was, with his forward momentum and the gate not being secure, the gate flew open when JayBuc hit it.

“That door flung open, I fall — fall to my knees,” JayBuc said.

The gate opened to a secondary small set of stairs that led to the field. That was a big-time no-no. The area on the other side of the yellow gate is forbidden territory for fans.

Evans noticed JayBuc right away, handed him the ball and dapped him up. The second JayBuc slapped skin with Evans, a Packers security guard grabbed JayBuc and tried to rip the ball away.

JayBuc held onto the ball like Mike Alstott plunging up the gut.

Mike Evans’ touchdown ball from Green Bay win.

The security guard screamed at JayBuc that he was in the wrong, going past the gate, even if it was an accident. And the security guard claimed the ball was NFL property and JayBuc had to give it up.

(JayBuc told Joe he learned the hard way the Packers have a policy that any football that ends up in the stands the Packers take back — unless a player or coach or Packers staffer gives a fan a ball.)

A heads-up cop quickly intervened. The cop told the security guard JayBuc was allowed to keep the ball because a player gave it to him, and that he saw Evans give JayBuc the ball.

Despite this, JayBuc admitted he was shook by the incident for some 15-20 minutes as he was scared he was going to get thrown out. To this day, JayBuc is convinced if Packers fans sitting around him didn’t come to his defense and tell the cops and the security guard that JayBuc didn’t do anything wrong, he may have still been thrown out.

“Packers fans are absolutely amazing,” JayBuc said. “An amazing fanbase. An amazing, historic organization. Yes, the Packers fans in Section 101 and 102, they stuck up for me.

“Shout out to the Packers fans. A lot of them came down and took a photo with me and with the ball.”

JayBuc said he finally began to relax when cops told him he was good and to enjoy the game.

“In the defense of the security guard, he was just doing his job,” JayBuc said. “He was doing what he is supposed to do.”

The cops did have to write up an incident report because the gate popped open and JayBuc skinned his knees while falling. So yeah, you could say JayBuc has some skin in the game when it comes to the Bucs.

JayBuc said Warren Sapp was always his favorite Bucs player. Now, his favorite player is Evans (JayBuc said Evans was his favorite Bucs offensive player, second overall only to Sapp).

“[Sapp] is still the ‘QB Killer,'” JayBuc said. “Mike is now by far my No. 1 favorite Buccaneer player.”

JayBuc said he had “never” come close to getting a ball in a game before.

“Even though it was always a dream of mine to get a game ball from a Mike Evans or Chris Godwin or Gronk, I never imagined it would actually happen. Let alone, in Lambeau. Lambeau Field?”

(Neat background: The ball has the Bucs logo on it with No. 54 — JayBuc said that’s special because his favorite current defensive player on the Bucs is Lavonte David, No. 54.)

The memorable week for JayBuc ended as he got to meet Evans as the future Hall of Fame receiver signed JayBuc’s ball.

“A dream literally came true,” JayBuc said.

A happy ending, indeed.

(Thanks to JayBuc for meeting Joe at Hooters on Friday and for posing for photos.)

29 Responses to “Mike Evans, A Football, A Bucs Fan, Packers Security And An Unlocked Gate”

  1. Bucs Fan From Philly Says:

    Super great editorial piece on a fan. Saw the game and this moment on national tv and I feared his TD ball was taken from him as it went to an extra point/commercial break.

  2. Joe Says:

    Bucs Fan From Philly:

    Thank you. 👍

  3. Proudbucsfan Says:

    That’s amazing, good things do happen to good people.

  4. HomerSimpsonRocks Says:

    That’s great. And the packers fans; what can you say. The ultimate in sportsmanship.

  5. garro Says:

    Attended quite a few Packers Bucs games at the Sombrero. By far the best visiting team fans I have met. Bears were the worst. Followed closely by the Taints.

    My positve view of Packers fans has now increased thanks to this cool story.

    Go JayBucs!

  6. Steve in Mad Beach Says:

    That’s awesome, good for him and glad that it worked out! I was worried that he’d lose the ball based on the TV feed.

    Hell yeah, go Bucs!

  7. SB Says:

    Dude had the same “Sonic” boots on that Tom MacDonald wore!
    Funny Stuff! Nice that he can afford to travel like that! Good for him and good for keeping the Ball! I would give it to my Grandson.

  8. BillyBucco Says:

    What a great story.
    Im sure falling and getting almost “Kicked Out” just makes the story that much better to tell.
    Congrats JayBuc and thanks for being a SuperFan.
    We need 75,000 of you this week!!!!!

  9. bob in valrico Says:

    Amazing story and profile a dedicated Buc Fan. How he could run in those boots
    down stairs is an amazing feat in itself. Damn Mike looks really fit, if you didn’t
    recognize him it would be hard to guess what a dominating receiver he is.

  10. dls5492 Says:

    Great story, great fan, too! I love happy endings.

  11. Paratrooper Buc Says:

    This is very well done, Joe. I loved this piece. I was also worried about what happened JayBuc that I rewatched the game to see if he was still in the stands. I saw the cops talking to him at one point. I’m grateful you were able to tell JayBuc’s story so we know it had a great ending. That’s twice now two years that Mike given the ball away became a bigger story than Mike showing love to the fans.

  12. kyle Says:

    grown man in boots and a Halloween costume…..smh

  13. BucsFanSince76 Says:

    Great piece Joe

  14. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    “Skin in the game”. Perfect.

  15. orlbucfan Says:

    Great story, for-real Buc fan, and great receiver and class act (ME13). Fits the season perfectly. Those NFL footballs aren’t cheap. Kudos to the fans of the Packers and the Badger State, too 🙂 Now, bring us good luck and a win today, JayBuc!! Go Tampa Bay!!

  16. Bubby Says:

    Thank you for this story, Joe. I absolutely loved it.

  17. D-Rok Says:

    This is outstanding journalism, sir Joe. Perfect piece to read about goodwill on Christmas Eve! What an awesome fan, and a great story.

  18. BUCS4LIFE Says:

    What a great story Joe. Those moments are why professional sports are just so freaking awesome, GOD has a special place in his heart for football of course. This is a true testament to what it’s all about. GOD bless JAYBUC, Mike Evans, JOE and my beloved Tampa Buccaneers. Merry Christmas to everyone! Go BUCS!

  19. Beeej Says:

    You can bet Eagles fans wouldn’t have helped him like that

  20. JBBUCS_06 Says:

    LOVE this story. Have thought about wearing my ME13 to NOLA games (I go every year as I’m close enough to road trip there yearly) but it’s hard to get end zone seats with Aints fans. I’ve received death stares and lots of trash talk from Aints fans over the years.

    Love this for JayBuc. Great story, love ME13. AND the Bucs BETTER keep him for life. He’s been so good for the Bucs AND has done so many restructures to help the team. PAY HIM and usher him into the HoF like RB20 as a lifelong Buc.

    Heading to the game against the Jags, caught between the RB20 and ME13 jersey. Decisions. :-O

  21. Buccup Says:

    I’m glad he hung onto it and didn’t let the security guards rip it away from him! A good lesson to all Bucs players about ball security! 😂

  22. Cobraboy Says:

    Nice. Made me smile. 😀

  23. Crickett Baker Says:

    It is the most complete and interesting story I have seen in a while! It deserves an award somewhere! That Jay is quite an amazing fan. How wonderful for him. It is also so fated about his job because Mike is also a champion for counselors.

  24. BCULAW18 Says:

    Really enjoyed this article, Joe. Thanks for sharing!

  25. mark2001 Says:

    Told you all this about Packer fans. They love to win, but win or lose, know how to show classy respect for fans of opposing teams…. a few exceptions being obnoxious Bears fans. But as they have had little to crow or be bombastic about for a number of years, it isn’t a usual difficulty. LOL.

  26. mark2001 Says:

    Classy and respectful Packer fans. Sounds about par for the course.

  27. JustMe Says:

    Congratulations! I was worried they took that ball! Love that the cheeseheads stuck up for him!

  28. Arians4President Says:

    Awwww, nice work Joe

  29. Bucs'n'Bucks Says:

    Great story! Thank you! Merry Christmas!!