Is Mike Evans protected by the First Amendment?

- For Mike Evans, life has gone from catching footballs to catching criticism.

Despite his high-profile protest against Donald Trump, the Bucs wide receiver apparently didn't vote. That revelation came on Instagram in response to a teammate who wrote "Who voted?" -- Evans' response was "no" from his official Instagram account.

The post has since been deleted.

During the national anthem prior to the game with the Chicago Bears yesterday, Evans didn't stand. He said he was protesting the election of Donald Trump.

"I'm a veteran of the Marine Corps," a man in downtown Tampa told me. "I wouldn't do that. I would use another avenue to share my feelings"

But a woman on the same street saw it differently. "It's OK. This is America. We all have the right to protest. Our country is founded on that First Amendment right."

But, according to Stetson Law professor Jason Bent, the First Amendment doesn't apply in the case of Evans.

"The First Amendment protects individuals against state action or government action, but it doesn't protect individuals from actions by private entities or employers like the NFL," Bent told me.

He says barring any unknown clause in Evans' contract, the Bucs could fire him for his actions.

The team issued a statement saying in part "we recognize every individual's right to freedom of speech which is crucial to the American principles we cherish."  They're apparently extending the First Amendment even though they may not have to.

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