Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, interviewed on Adam Schefter's ESPN podcast, said Tuesday there would be an "uproar" if the NFL moves forward with a proposal that would keep players from kneeling in protest during the national anthem.
"I think it's going to be a negative reaction. I don't think guys are going to like it," McCoy said on the podcast. "I think it's going to be an uproar if that is to happen, because you're basically taking away a constitutional right to freedom of speech. If guys want to have, I guess you'd call it a peaceful protest, I don't think it's right to take that away from guys."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all 32 team owners on Tuesday, saying a proposal would be discussed at next week's league meetings that would require all players to stand during the anthem. Other Bucs players on Tuesday expressed their appreciation for the freedom that the Bucs -- both from the Glazer family that owns the team to coach Dirk Koetter -- allowed players to express themselves as they wanted on the issue. Receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson kneeled during the anthem in Week 3 at Minnesota, each with their hand on their hearts as they kneeled. Both have stood with their teammates during the anthem before the last two games.
McCoy said he has no intention of protesting, but fully supports his teammates' right to do so.
"Will you ever see Gerald do it at that moment? No, you won't," McCoy said to Schefter. "But that doesn't mean that ... I had two teammates that did that in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, and that's their right to do that. If they're going to do it, they're going to have the support of their whole team. If you take that away from them, there's going to be an uproar. It's just going to happen. It's like, you had a voice at one point but then you don't at this point. That's our right. It's a constitutional right, and if you take that away, I don't think people are going to take too kindly to it."