Head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Mike Evans’ decision to sit during the National Anthem, a protest of the election of Donald Trump, quickly became a national story on Sunday.
Unsurprisingly, the controversial demonstration dominated Dirk Koetter’s press conference the next day. The Bucs coach would’ve preferred to discuss his team’s commanding 36-10 win over the Bears, its first home victory of the season, and while the latter half of the presser covered just that, Koetter knew what he was in for as he took the podium.
“I might need my glasses today,” Koetter joked, holding a paper with comments he made in August about Colin Kaepernick. “I better get them ready,” he said while putting the glasses on.
Koetter was asked about everything from his initial reaction to Evans’ protest, to his concern of it becoming a distraction for the team, to a possible fan fallout, and a few more, sometimes rephrased questions. Here’s the transcript of the first eight minutes of Monday’s press conference.
(On reaction to Evans’ protest)
“I’m exactly the same today. I’m exactly the same as what I said in August, when the Colin Kaepernick stuff started. I’m exactly the same and I stand by that. I certainly stand by the statement released by the organization. I think that sums it up pretty well.”
(On aware of Evans decision before the game)
(On if he spoke to Evans afterward)
“I was texting with Mike last night, yes. Players are off (Monday), and I’ll speak with Mike on Wednesday. Of course, that conversation will be between me and him.”
(On concern of Evans’ protest becoming a distraction)
“Well, I hope it doesn’t affect our team. That’s something that I’ll take whatever measures necessary, that I think are necessary, to try to minimize what affect it has on our team. I’m really not sure. This is unchartered water for me, and I’m not sure about any of that.”
(On concerned Evans’ protest will lose fans, and advice he would give Evans)
“Well, I’m not going to speak for Mike in any form at all. And I’m not going to get into any advice that I would give Mike. As far as me talking to the fans, I think the organization put out a great statement and we really want the fans to come out. Heck, I’m dying to get the fans out there and fill Ray Jay up. We have to play better football. The better football we play, I think the more they’ll come. I think we took a good step in that direction yesterday. That’s my statement on that.”
(On reaction to fans who say they might boycott)
“I don’t have control over that. This is all stuff you’re telling me. 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 if he thinks protest will deflate effort to engage fans)
“I’m not sure. I’m not sure if it will or it won’t. I don’t know.”
(On if there’s any indication that other players will join)
“I have not talked to any of the players. Like I said, I didn’t know about this until after the game. It didn’t come up in front of me in the locker room. By the time I was aware of this, most of the players were showered and mostly gone. The players are off today, so I’ve only talked to maybe two players today and it wasn’t about this.”
(On if timing of protest, on Military Appreciation Day, could’ve been better)
“Again, I didn’t have anything to do with the timing so I’m not the right person to ask about that. Maybe you guys can get the chance to talk to Mike on Wednesday. I’m not the person to ask. Let me say this, Military Appreciation Day at the stadium yesterday, I thought, was awesome. I personally took pictures with a ton of Military personnel on the field. I shook a ton of hands on the field. I saw other players doing the same thing. I thought the display by the Military and the fly-over, the choir that sang before the game – I thought that was awesome. Right when the National Anthem – Jameis stands by me during the National Anthem – that Military choir sang, and when that was over, I turned and looked at Jameis and said, ‘If that doesn’t get you fired up, I don’t know what will.’”
(On his statement in August about Colin Kaepernick’s protest)
“I can read it to you. I don’t have it memorized (laughs), but they have it for me in really small print. [Reading] Okay, I said, ‘We, believe it or not, have practiced how to line up 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 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.’ [Speaking to the media] If you remember, the question was, at that point, coach Jeff Fisher said that [the Rams] were going to have some kind of team rule requiring players to stand for the National Anthem, which I don’t think ever materialized.”
(On if he’s disappointed in Evans’ protest)
“Yeah, I’m disappointed for that. But, again, I also respect Mike’s freedom of speech and freedom of expression.”
(On if he got the impression that the election divided the locker room at all, mentioning that some companies have asked employees not to discuss politics)
“I wouldn’t want to work at one of those companies. Would you? How was it at your company? I’m sure there are a lot of discussions of a lot of topics in our locker room, some of which I know about, some of which I don’t. I’m not sure.”
(On what he would tell the fans)
“I think we already asked that. Didn’t I already say let’s fill Ray Jay up? We need to play better football and we need all the help we can get. Appreciate our fans. There are so many great fans out there that we talk to every week. We’ll do our part. Continue to do yours. We need you.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: email@example.com
I am a Vietnam War veteran. I am not offended by Evan’s action.
I am in the 38% of the poll here at PR. I appreciate Koetter’s viewpoint as reported here. I thank you, Zach, for including Dirk’s original comments after Kaepernick’s initial protest.
I heard an extended version of Evan’s comments on WDAE 620 today. I listened to portions of two of their programs today. One caller who was offended, and said he would no longer support the Bucs, was an Airborne Ranger war veteran.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. What I don’t like, is the (likely) effect it (could) have on the team. It becomes a distraction. About as wanted or needed, as another injury to our starting team… There are hundreds of other and more effective ways to make a change. Try voting.
What Evans did was selfish and unproductive. He also put his boss, his employer, the fan base, and his teammate in a position to have to deal with this situation which was none of their doing. Coach Koetter had to deal with this in his press conference today. Even today on PR, we are dealing with this instead of talking about the defensive effort against the Bears and moving on to the Chiefs. Good job 13, hope you’re happy.
And he didn’t bother to vote per ABC Action News 11/14
OH MY GOD? Really? Wow! Talk about spitting at our soldiers, Mike, you just did it. Hopefully, he grows up and realize the colossal, foolish acts he just done (all based upon a lie) and apologizes. I am not holding my breath. Hopefully, he has a real friend that tells him the truth.
Mike Evans wanted to create a dialogue, seems he’s successfully done so. If teammates see this as a distraction, then they need to learn to quickly forget and focus on what’s really important. That’s Kansas City, if anyone is wondering.
Anyone who knows my writings out here knows I didn’t vote for that gas bag of a snake oil salesman Trump.
With that said, I still didn’t approve of Evans sitting during the National Anthem. But I’m not going to let it ruin a good win or let one person stop me from supporting my beloved Bucs.
Just like a wouldn’t judge a whole police department on the actions of one bad cop.
I find it more offensive that Evans didn’t vote more than the fact he sat during a hard to sing National Anthem.
To many people fought and died for him to ignore such a valuable duty as a citizen.
Also because he didn’t vote, it really dulls his viewpoint, no matter which side he wants to take.
Kapernick didn’t vote either and now he looks like a real bafoon. If you don’t participate in the most important place you can, I really don’t want to listen to your complaining and bellyaching, especially when you had a candidate who thought the people he believed were being targeted by law enforcement thought they had a legitimate beef.
I do find it humorous though that for the last 8 years all of these red, white and blue types have been hurling insults and epithets at the President of the United States who led this nation out of a Great Recession and had Osama Bin Laden assassinated all of a sudden get offended because they won’t stand for a mere symbol.
I guess it’s worse to insult a symbol than a human being in their illogical minds.
Evans’ action could be considered extremely boneheaded to say the least. His timing was very bad.
I just saw where Alshon Jeffrey was suspended for 4 games. It was announced sometime today. I feel some sympathy for The Bears and their fans. [Maybe, only just a little sympathy that is. . >:-) . }:-) . ]
At least we won’t lose our best receiver over what he did.
Evans has an inalienable right to freedom of expression/speech, as guaranteed under the 1st amendment to the Constitution. Nevertheless, in my opinion, his action was a) selfish, b) disrespectful to his teammates and c) was a distraction which manifestly deflected attention, post match, from what was arguably the Bucs best performance of the season. Either way, the best way to handle it frankly is to ignore it and move on. If I was Koetter, I would have a quiet word in Mike Evans ear, about the subjects of team unity and responsibility to his teammates and then consider the matter closed.
Many of us who served have diverse opinions regarding the actions of Evans. We must never forget the time tested axiom that states in effect, “I may not agree with what you say sir, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” To maintain the integrity of the First Ammendment we must all remember that all of our opinions and the right to express them are guaranteed.
So Mike Evans kneels and the Bucs win 36-10. If that’s a “distraction” I hope he does it again next week. Anybody who insists that another human being should conform to their political opinions is just a bully, anyway. People who are offended to the point of boycotting a game have their priorities as screwed up as Trump’s tweets do. I’m a veteran who hates the thought of bullies ever getting their way. If you want to “support the troops,” then get out there and join the armed forces. It’s more than Trump ever bothered to do.
We here in Bucville don’t get to enjoy home victories very often. So it saddens me on this day that instead of Dirk Koetter talking about the game, the entire conversation is about what happened before kick-off.
Why is it that the folks who dislike Trump resort to name calling and other assorted insults yet I don’t recall reading the same from those who are offended by the actions of his opponent. Frankly I wish this forum would cease to be used by some to regurgitate their political views.
I’m still waiting for the Coke you promised me Dr.D.
I think those five immortal words of Forrest Gump sum this one up best…. “stupid is as stupid does”!
Move on and get back to football.
Miley Cyrus may be hypocritical, but she at least had the balls to vote to express her opinion.
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