TAMPA, FLA. - In a statement released through his agent, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans said he will no longer sit for the national anthem, apologizing to U.S. military members and their families.
Evans sat on the bench during the Star Spangled Banner in protest of President-elect Donald Trump prior to Sunday's 36-10 win over the Chicago Bears, a game in which the Buccaneers honored active and retired members of the military with its annual "Salute to Service" pregame.
"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 the statement.
Evans, 23, issued an apology to all veterans who may have been offended by his refusal to stand during the anthem.
"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," Evans said. "It was never my intention as I have tremendous respect for the men and women who serve our country."
Evans' protest received national attention and enraged fans locally, drawing threats of boycotting and backlash from local politicians. Following Sunday's game, Evans said he would sit for the foreseeable future, stating President-elect Donald Trump's victory was a "joke". Monday, head coach Dirk Koetter expressed his disappointment in Evans' decision not to stand. Tuesday, Evans reversed course, but not before explaining his stance.
"I have very strong emotions regarding some of the many issues that exist in our society today," he said. "I chose to sit as an expression of my frustration towards this year’s election. It was very personal for me, as it was for so many Americans."
Evans previously stated he was not trying to offend veterans by sitting for the anthem. His protest lasted less than 48 hours.
"This Sunday, I will be back to standing with my teammates," he said.
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