Did NFL coerce player to stop protesting?

A number of NFL players have decided to sit or kneel during the playing of the national anthem before their games in 2016 in order to express their disgust with some of the recent tragedies and policies in the United States. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans was the latest player to be found sitting on the sidelines while the anthem was sung during the team’s game last Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

Evans explained is decision to sit during the anthem on Sunday was done in order to protest the results of the recent United States election. In his postgame interview, the receiver told the media that he would continue to stay seated during the anthem until, “Ashton Kutcher comes out and says that we’ve been Punk’d.”

I’m not going to stand for somebody I don’t believe in.

Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers, WR

But on Tuesday, all of a sudden the receiver had a change of heart about his actions. Evans released a statement to ESPN’s Josina Anderson in which he apologized to those offended by his protest on Sunday and stated that he will now be standing during the anthem for the rest of the 2016 NFL season.

When the receiver spoke to the media on Sunday, he was adamant about his decision to protest the election and did not show any signs of regret. So why the sudden change of heart?

Perhaps it had something to do with his head coach Dirk Koetter saying back in August that he would be, “disappointed” if anyone on his team did not stand for the playing of the National Anthem.

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter does not approve of his players using their platform to make a difference in society. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter does not approve of his players using their platform to make a difference in society. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Basic logic would lead one to think that someone from the organization gave Evans a talking to between Sunday and Tuesday and suggested the player stop his protest. For how strongly he felt about his reasoning after their game against the Bears, it just seems a little fishy that Evans would just totally flip the switch on his decision to stay seated during the anthem.

But then again, maybe the receiver decided to stop his protest all on his own.

The maybe in this instance seems much larger than normal, but NFL teams would never force their players to stop doing something that could prevent the organization from selling out their stadium. Would they?