Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans says that ever since he was a kid, he has always “loved’’ the part of sports where players line up on the sideline and stand for the National Anthem.
That’s why he “felt awkward’’ staging a protest against President-Elect Donald Trump by sitting for the Anthem prior to the Bucs game against the Bears at Raymond James Stadium last Sunday.
“It felt awkward when I sat down and my teammates were all standing up,’’ Evans said Wednesday, the first day he’s spoken publicly since issuing an apology for his protest on Monday. “I’m a team guy.’’
Evans said if he had it to do over again he still would have found a way to protest Trump’s election but would not have sat for the Anthem because of the appearance it left on Military Appreciation Day.
“The City of Tampa is big on the Military,’’ Evans sad. “And I know I’ve hurt a lot of people by doing what I did. I’m sorry to those who are truly affected by what I did, to those who are disappointed in what I did, and to my teammates.
“But I will continue to use my platform. I just want people to understand that you can’t just hate somebody because they have different beliefs and different views than you. That’s the problem, that’s why I did what I did.
“That’s what I want people to understand, you can’t just wish harm on somebody because they have different beliefs than you, because everyone didn’t grow up the same. That’s why I did what I did.”
Evans, a bi-racial native of Galviston, Texas, said he intends to work closer with and donate money to minority organizations that fight for equality and supports all minorities.
“My means of protest are changing,’’ Evasn said. “But I will still be fighting for minorities. Women, LGBT, African-Americans, Latinos – the people that are in fear of Donald Trump and his presidency.’’
Evans said he was not coerced into his apology by anyone, including teammates, coaches or Bucs officials, and that came to the decision to end his protest on his own.
He said he was not criticized inside the Bucs locker room but received both criticism and support for his stance in the days since he decided to stage the protest.
“It’s what I expected,’’ Evans said of the backlash. “Some people were saluting me, some people were showing evil, and (there was) a lot of hate. It’s what I expected. That’s the problem that I had. And that’s why I did what I did. But I can’t change it. I apologize to the military.”
Evans said he been a victim himself of racism “recently’’ and noted that some of the criticism he’s receive came as a result of his decision not to vote in the election.
“I know I said that I didn’t vote, that I don’t do politics and things like that, but the thing is, I tried to vote, but I realized I’m a voter in Texas and it was too late to take proper actions to do it,’’ he said. “That’s my fault.”