Republican State Senator Jack Latvala issued pointed criticism of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' WR Mike Evans' decision to kneel during the national anthem prior to the Bucs game versus the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Latvala said he is "deeply offended" and will forgo attending future Buccaneers games until the wideout apologizes or is removed from the team roster.
Evans sat during the anthem as a protest against president-elect Donald Trump. He then added that he did not mean to disrespect veterans with his political gesture.
The senator responded that Evans' actions during a game that was meant to honor the service and sacrifices of veterans is "a slap in the face to our veterans, our active duty military and every freedom-loving American in Tampa Bay."
The Buccaneers issued a response to Evans on Sunday night saying that although the organization recognizes the efforts veterans have made for the country, it recognizes "every individual's constitutional right to freedom of speech, which is crucial to the American principles we cherish."
Evans' protest comes 10 weeks into the NFL season after San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem as a protest against the treatment of African-Amercians and other minority groups.