Without voting, Evans stages an empty protest

by Gary Shelton on November 15, 2016 · 3 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Evans needed one thing for his protest ... a vote../TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Evans needed one thing for his protest ... a vote../TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

I like Mike Evans. Really, I do.

I voted for Hillary Clinton. To be honest, I did.

And yet, I cannot get behind Evans' protest Sunday of Trump's election. I simply cannot. It's hard to be part of a chorus when the lead singer has sacrificed his voice,

To be honest, I share many of Evans' concerns about the upcoming administration. That isn't the point. I think Evans is a voice of perspective. And, to be honest, I grew up in a time of protests in this country. I much prefer for the athletes I know to care about the social issues.

But here's my problem with Evans. (And Kaepernick, for that matter.)

He didn't vote.

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To me, a person's vote is his ticket for the right to protest politics. If you don't care enough to vote, I don't care enough about your opinion. It's like you're saying 'I didn't vote, but I think the rest of you who did screwed up.'” It's like a movie review from someone who didn't watch the film.

Once you hear that Evans didn't vote, it didn't matter how you felt about he said. He was irrelevant. Agree? Disagree? Who cares? Now matter how you feel about what he said, Evans has allowed his message to be watered down.

Look, millions of Americans did not vote for Trump, and to me, every one of them have more of a right to complain about Trump than Evans does. (And about Clinton had she won.)

I know, I know. Anymore, we all seem to think more of our right to protest than of someone else's right to disagree. I get it. But the point here isn't that Evans protested. It's that he did so without voting.

That's all Evans had to do to make me care. Just vote. You want to vote for a write-in candidate, fine. Vote for teammate Jameis Winston if you want. But the ballot is filled with offices and candidates that give Evans plenty of opportunity to express his opinion. Hey, it's on the players' day off. There are absentee ballots.

By not voting, Evans is saying, in effect, that he has no dog in this fight. Hey, if he had voted, he could grouse about the electoral college taking precedence over the popular vote. He could express dismay that this group or that one didn't support his candidate sufficiently.

When San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick began his protest, my take was that that should just be a start. That he should get involved in a way that mattered more than sitting out the anthem. I would suggest the same thing with Evans. He should encourage his followers to get out and vote (however they want).

Most of all, he should vote. If you want to speak up, show up.

“If this happens, then America’s not right right now,” Evans told reporters. “I said this a long time ago. When he ran, I thought it was a joke, and the joke continues. I’m not a political person that much, but I got common sense. And I know when something’s not right.”

Oh, I know. There are those who disagree with anyone who protests against Evans' protests, as if he has more of a right to his opinion that the rest of us. But, what, exactly is Evans' protesting? The voters? The fact Trump was running? The others who didn't vote?

Again, I don't mind what Evans is saying. I pretty much feel the same way. I don't mind that he's sitting rather than standing. I wish they'd play the anthem, if they feel the need to do so, before the players take the sideline. I don't mind that he protested, which is, of course, his right.

But you gotta vote. Otherwise, it's someone else's debate. If you let other people do the voting, you haven't done your job.

All of it left coach Dirk Koetter trying to explain his feelings, and it left too few questions about the Bucs' victory on Sunday.

“I hope it doesn’t affect our team and that’s something that I’ll take whatever measures necessary that I think are necessary to try to minimize what effect it has on our team,” Koetter said. “I’m really not sure. This is uncharted water for me and I’m not sure about any of that.”

What would he say to fans who plan to boycott? “I don’t have control over that. This is all stuff you’re telling me, I’m not out there, I’m not having — this is all news to me. I’ve been working on getting ready for Kansas City all day, so I don’t really have a reaction. I’d be disappointed because I want to fill that place up, but that’s Dirk Koetter talking, that’s my personal opinion.”

On repeating what Koetter said in August about Kaepernick: ‘We, believe it or not, have practiced how to lineup for the National Anthem, we’ve worked on it. I don’t know if our organization has the right to tell a guy that he needs to do that. I would be disappointed if any of our players didn’t stand up for the National Anthem, personally. I look at that as a salute to the people who have paved the way for us, but at the same time this is a free country and I think freedom of speech is something that we all believe in and freedom of expression. That’s an individual’s choice, that’s a fine line there. I would personally be disappointed, but I think it would be hard to enforce that rule.’”

I repeat: If Evans had voted, I would have zero problems with his protest. I would consider it his right, no matter which side of the argument he supported.

But if you sacrifice your right to vote, frankly, you sacrifice your right to gripe.

Granted, Evans is a terrific receiver. I wish he had another step of speed, but he's very good. He's a bright guy. He has good intentions.

But he doesn't have one of those nifty “I voted'' stickers.

Without it, it's an empty protest.


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