TAMPA — When receiver Mike Evans sat during the national anthem at a Bucs home game in November to protest the election of Donald Trump, he said he intended no disrespect toward veterans or those serving in the military.
On Friday, two Bucs fans from Riverview went to great lengths to present him with a gesture of how much the flag means to them.
Patrick Watkins and Shawn Williams, Bucs fans who served in the military and now work for the Defense Intelligence Agency, arranged to have a U.S. flag flown over the American embassy in Baghdad, in honor of Evans.
That flag was dropped off at One Buc Place on Friday and passed along to Evans.
"It is with great pleasure, pride and respect that this flag was flown for Mike Evans," reads the certificate from the U.S. Marine Corps given with the flag.
Watkins, a Bucs season-ticket holder who works at MacDill Air Force Base, was on the field for the team's "Salute to Service" game in 2015 and had a Bucs jersey signed by Evans that day.
Watkins wrote a letter, saying he understood Evans' choice to exercise his rights and sharing the hope Evans would choose a different platform for an future protests.
"Instead of being upset over this single event, I wanted to share my thoughts from a service member's point of view,'' he wrote. "… Today I want to present a flag to you, one that symbolizes the sacrifices that were made defending it. … I hope this provides a different perspective."
The flag was flown over the embassy on Nov. 27, the day Evans caught two touchdown passes in a 14-5 home victory against Seattle. Williams was in Baghdad when the flag was flown and returned to Florida with the flag last week.
Evans ended his protest after two days.
BUCS SIGN ANGER: Bryan Anger signed a $17 million, five-year extension, making him one of the top-five highest-paid punters in the league. Anger, 28, is fourth with a net average of 42.4 yards with 32 punts inside the 20, both career highs and a franchise record. The Bucs now have 17 unrestricted free agents.
LIONS: Leading rusher Theo Riddick went on injured reserve (wrist).
RAVENS: Linebacker and top tackler Zachary Orr went on injured reserve (neck) and receiver Keenan Reynolds was elevated from the practice squad. Reynolds, a QB for Navy, switched positions for the NFL.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.