Fennelly: Evans learns hard lesson in protest, but cut him slack

Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans says he's done with sitting during the national anthem. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans says he's done with sitting during the national anthem. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
Published Nov. 16, 2016

Welcome to Waffle House. May I take your order?

Oh, who cares? The kid said he was sorry.

Mike Evans' days as a crusader, both of them, are at an end.

Tuesday, the Bucs receiver announced he was quitting his anthem sit-down over the election of Donald Trump.

The circus opened and closed in one game.

"This Sunday, I will be back standing with my teammates," Evans said in a statement.

Think of all the breathable air we just wasted.

Evans apologized to military members (it was a "Salute to Service" game at Raymond James Stadium) and anyone else he might have offended with his protest.

Good deal.

I don't think this guy had any idea of the impact or backlash that would accompany what he did until after he did it.

There are tricks to being a Kaepernick copycat.

Evans saw the light. Maybe the Bucs helped him see it.

But … two days?

I wanted this to go on a little longer for the fun of it. I held out hope that our next commander-in-tweet would fire up the engine.

"Mike Evans! Didn't Vote! ZERO first half catches against Chicago!"

Let's cut Evans some slack. He apologized.

Let's chalk this up to him being 23, being passionate. There is nothing in the world wrong with learning as you go.

Evans said he'll look for "more effective ways" to communicate his message and bring about change. Good for him. I salute him.

Hey, Mike, here's a more effective way to communicate:

Cast a vote.

We knew Evans wasn't truly invested in all this when we learned that he apparently … didn't vote for president.

At least that's what Evans said last week on Instagram.

I fully supported his right to protest. And I fully supported my right to label him a hypocrite.

He called out the election and the winner, but didn't bother to vote?

He undercut his own argument.

It's still kind of undercut.

Voting is the least we can do.

I hear Putin voted like 22 times.

"Elections matter," President Barack Obama said Monday. "Votes count."

I'm glad Evans backed off. Having not voted, then complaining about who won, made him look foolish. Just my opinion.

Evans seems like a good person. He's a great football player.

I don't doubt his passion or beliefs, but he was in over his head.

Maybe a serious discussion will come out of this yet.

I hope it does.

It wasn't lost on anyone that Evans protested on a weekend the Bucs saluted our military. At halftime, dozens of young men and women took an oath of enlistment to join our armed forces.

I was proud of them. They defend something larger than themselves. Under the umbrella they provide is the right of everyone to protest. It also includes my right to allow Evans to change his mind. And to hope someone didn't change it for him, that it came from his heart.

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Evans made the right call to throw it in reverse.

Yes, he'll look silly for a while, maybe a great long while, but eventually it will pass. Maybe he learned something. You can't pretend to go all in. Those men and women taking those oaths — that wasn't pretend.

Enough. He apologized.

Mike Evans, stand-up guy.