INDIANAPOLIS — Evan Boehm has been explaining himself to reporters, coaches and players since Missouri’s football season ended in November.
During Senior Bowl week, the former Tigers center walked SEC Country through a team boycott that upset the balance of power at Missouri. At the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday afternoon, he devoted most of his press conference to the issue.
In short: He regrets nothing.
“Did it bring a bad name to Missouri?” he said Wednesday afternoon. “Maybe in some people’s eyes. But if you don’t know the full story, then you can’t really judge in that aspect.”
The school has suffered plenty of backlash. Donations and support declined. A group of state lawmakers is attacking former coach Gary Pinkel for his role in the boycott.
All of this sticks with Boehm. Here in Indianapolis, NFL coaches and scouts are constantly asking him, “Why?”
He said he’s “open” about the issue and tells the whole story to anyone who wants his perspective. To Boehm, there’s nothing to hide; he wants as many people to know about it as possible.
“Maybe for the college athletics, I think that could be a positive,” he said. “I’m not saying every team should go on a boycott and every team should do that. But we are human and we do have feelings. Yeah, we’re out there playing football and trying to make a living for ourselves, but there’s somebody inside those pads. And that’s the most important thing.”
He added: “When I talk to coaches, when I talk to the players, they’re like, ‘Man, I didn’t know the full story. I didn’t know what really happened. And now, hearing that, it makes a lot of sense. We were just like why would this team do this? Why would this team do that?’ Now that they hear the full story and they hear it from a person who experienced it, they know what it’s like.”
As for his former coach, Boehm is none too happy with Missouri politicians’ recent threats to file a complaint that would launch a formal investigation into Pinkel’s actions.
The 63-year-old announced a non-Hodgkins lymphoma diagnosis — and his retirement — shortly after supporting his players’ boycott.
“I think Gary Pinkel’s a great guy,” Boehm said. “Gary Pinkel’s a great coach. Gary Pinkel stands by his players. In his job, you have to make people happy. You have to make recruits happy. You have to make the boosters happy. If you make the recruits happy, you get recruits. If you make the boosters happy, you get money. That’s just the devil inside of that job: You can’t make both happy sometimes.”
According to Boehm, no fingers need to be pointed at all; Missouri players were in the right, and his coach was right to back them up.
“It’s not coach Pinkel’s fault,” Boehm said. “It’s nobody’s fault. Something needed to happen, and something did happen.”