Yesterday the joy of our first home victory in ages was tarnished in many fan’s hearts and in the media by the actions of our star wide receiver, Mike Evans. A 23-year-old man who, by his own admission was troubled by the outcome of what has been the most contentious election in my lifetime, used his amazing platform to make a statement.
That platform. We talk about the platform all the time. We want our athletes to use that platform for good. Advance the community. Help those in need. Be leaders for change in a positive way. Those are all heavy burdens but burdens that people in any spotlight bear (despite what Charles Barkley asserted).
This is not the first time a player has protested during the anthem. Note that phrase please. Mike did not protest THE anthem. He brought attention to himself to espouse a position. That act takes bravery (calm down, keep reading. I know many of you Twitter types may have already tuned out since this is longer than 140 Characters).
When you take a stand that will be that loud and one that clearly galvanizes and polarizes the ENTIRE DAMN COUNTRY. you better have your shit together. When Kapernick did this he had a strong position on a social issue. You may not have agreed with him and certainly have the right to find his actions unacceptable (the legal version of this is a little muddy as strictly speaking this may not be a 1st Amendment issue but the structure of the CBA and the real legal definition of the players with respect to their clubs becomes interesting.) but he has created conversation, become active and seemingly tries to make change in the area he called out.
Mike seems like he was embarrassed. Mad. Disappointed.
I can relate. I am all of those things. I had my meltdown on social media and am still coming to grips with evaluating the message this election sent. That said, for a protest to have meaning I think there needs to be some thought. A plan. To say he will sit as long as Mr. Trump is President Elect may mean until his inauguration but he is essentially protesting the vote. You can argue popular vote versus electoral college here (I won’t) and you can argue about voter turnout. You could make it a platform to try and get young people out to vote and become informed. You could argue vociferously about the use of hate or corrupt lobbyists in campaigns. You could encourage people to get involved locally and make change.
What you probably should not do is say you are gonna hold your breath until you get your way.
This looks, smells and feels like a poorly thought out tantrum and that is a shame. It is also a shame how vocally people who have previously lobbied for outright criminals to be signed to this team have been bloviating about how they are done with the team.
Mike is a young guy. I have spoken to Mike a few times. He seems like a good guy. I think his heart was in the right place but his actions were misguided and poorly thought out. Were I his representative you would see the following:
To all of the fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the NFL in general and most specifically, the great men and women we set out yesterday to specifically salute, I am sorry. My goal was not to disrespect your service or sacrifice but rather to make a point. What I did not realize until too late is that the point really was that I need to be better.
I need to be better informed and I need to be more active. I need to argue and debate when those arguments and debates can prevent something I find unacceptable rather than throw a virtual tantrum after the results are in.
I know my actions have hurt many and for that I am genuinely sorry. As I said repeatedly and demonstrated with the time I spent yesterday (and spend often) with our service men and women, I have the utmost respect for the amazing things they do and the freedoms their service provide all of us.
While I am still aghast at the outcome of this election along with many of my fellow Americans, there are far more meaningful and certainly less disrespectful ways to create dialog and ideally action about it.
So again, to all who I offended I apologize. We live in a great country that is the, “Land of the free because of the brave.” I know that and pledge to be more brave myself by becoming more informed and involved instead of simply being angry.