Tampa Bay Buccaneers star wide receiver Mike Evans, who was previously a star player at Texas A&M University, refused to stand during the National Anthem before the Buccaneers game on Sunday. Evans’ protest was not to stand in solidarity and join San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s lead in protesting against America during the National Anthem. Instead, Evans was joining the ranks of the #NotMyPresident rioters by protesting against the election of Donald Trump as president.
Head coach Dirk Koetter made it clear that while he respected Evans freedom of speech and freedom of expression, he was disappointed in his decision to sit during the National Anthem.
"I'm not big on politics … but I told myself, 'If this happens, America is not right right now.'" https://t.co/U3JHPXqkT8
— ESPN (@espn) November 14, 2016
Koetter also read the same statement that he made when asked about National Anthem protests when they were begun by Kaepernick.
“Believe it or not, we have practiced how to line up for the national anthem. We’ve worked on it. I don’t know if our organization has the right to tell a guy that he needs to do that. I would be disappointed if any of our players didn’t stand up for the national anthem, personally. I look at that as a salute to the people who have paved the way for us, but at the same time, this is a free country, and I think freedom of speech is something that we all believe in and freedom of expression. That’s an individual’s choice. That’s a fine line there. I would personally be disappointed, but I think it would be hard to enforce that rule.”
Just two days after his protest, however, Evans has ended it, said he would be standing with his teammates going forward, and issued an apology. His protest and refusal to stand for the National Anthem, he says, stemmed from frustration.
Evans apology was tweeted by his sports agent, Josina Anderson.
I want to start by apologizing to all the U.S. military members, their families, and the fans who I offended by my actions on Sunday. It was never my intention as I have tremendous respect for the men and women who serve our country.
I have very strong emotions regarding some of the many issues that exist in our society today. I chose to sit as an expression of my frustration towards this year’s election. It was very personal for me, as it was for so many Americans.
With that being said, I will not sit again during the national anthem because I want to focus my efforts on finding more effective ways to communicate my message and bring about change by supporting organizations and movements that fight for equal rights for minorities.”
With Evans’ demonstration coming two days after Veterans’ Day, his protest was met with strong rebuke via a tweet from ESPN host Sage Steele, who is of African-American and Irish/Italian descent. Her father, Gary Steele, was the first black player to play for West Point in the 1960s. He was inducted into the Army Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
— Sage Steele (@sagesteele) November 14, 2016