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Bucs' Mike Evans ends protest, will stand for national anthem

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) and quarterback Jameis Winston (3) observe the national anthem before a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016.
Published Nov. 16, 2016

TAMPA — Bucs receiver Mike Evans, who drew national backlash after sitting during the pregame national anthem Sunday in protest of Donald Trump's election as president, issued a statement Tuesday saying he had ended that protest.

"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," Evans said in a statement issued through his agent. "This Sunday, I will be back to standing with my teammates."

It went nearly unnoticed Sunday when Evans, 23, sat on a bench behind his teammates as a military choir sang the national anthem as part of the Bucs' Salute to Service festivities. Evans addressed the protest after Sunday's game, saying that Trump was a "joke" and that "I'm not going to stand for something I don't believe in."

His action quickly drew threats of boycotts of Bucs games from local politicians and fans, and coach Dirk Koetter said Monday he was personally "disappointed" by Evans' decision, which he found out about after the win over the Bears. "I also respect Mike's freedom of speech and freedom of expression," he said.

Evans' statement Tuesday addressed his frustration over Trump's election and the rationale behind his decision to sit during the anthem. Evans is registered to vote in Texas but said on Instagram last week that he did not vote, despite his opinion on Trump.

"I have very strong emotions regarding some of the many issues that exist in our society today," Evans wrote. "I chose to sit as an expression of my frustration towards this year's election. It was very personal to me, as it was for so many Americans."

Evans reiterated, as he had in his comments Sunday night, that he meant no disrespect toward military personnel, especially knowing that his actions came during a tribute to their contributions and sacrifice.

"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," he wrote. "It was never my intention, as I have tremendous respect for the men and women who serve our country."

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