Most fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers likely remember the moment Mike Evans was drafted to become the greatest wide receiver in franchise history. In his seventh season now, Evans has reached all expectations and continues to impress despite his statistical production being down in 2020.
There are a lot of things Bucs fans know about Evans. As dedicated a fan base as any other out there, fans of this team not only like to know their players on the field, they enjoy learning about who they are as human beings as well.
Appearing on the “Truss Levelz” Podcast with Mark Ingram and Cam Jordan featured on The Players’ Tribune, Evans dove into topics beyond the gridiron to give those who know him a little more insight, and those who don’t a first glimpse into the man behind the pads.
Whether its the family first mentality Evans brings to his down time, or the video game playing videos he shares from time to time, and even his love of all things Harry Potter, there’s little about this fan favorite Bucs Nation isn’t tuned in to.
Not everybody knows everything though. Most Tampa Bay football fans will tell you proudly about how the Buffalo Bills took Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins as the first wide receiver off the board in 2014, leaving Evans to fall into the laps of the Buccaneers franchise. But, how many remember Evans being the second Texas A&M product taken as well?
Offensive tackle Jake Matthews was selected by the Atlanta Falcons just one pick ahead of Evans, giving the Aggies their first Top-7 draft duo since 1941. Adding perhaps to the prestige of the Top-7 teammates is the fact they are the only two taken in the first seven picks of that year’s selection meeting remaining on the teams which drafted them.
Of the Top-10 players taken in 2014, only Matthews, Evans and No. 9 overall pick Anthony Barr (Minnesota Vikings) remain on the teams which drafted them, displaying the value of drafting intelligently at the top of any class.
Back to Evans though, the greatest wide receiver in Buccaneers franchise history played just two years (after a redshirt freshman season) at Texas A&M before making the wise decision to turn pro along with Matthews and fellow first-round pick, Johnny Manziel.
Some Buccaneers fans might be interested to learn, or be reminded, that Evans had only been playing consistent football for three of the four years leading to the 2014 NFL Draft. Something he talked about with Ingram and Jordan,
“I played (football) when I was young, I always loved football. Football was actually my first love, and then I played basketball and I was like, ‘Man, this is a way better sport, I love this way more.’...and I loved football I just didn’t want to play it for my school at the time...Junior year spring [basketball], after the season was over I was like going into senior year, why not, let me just do all the sports.”
It’s funny how life can take different paths. Evans had more offers to play basketball in college than he did football, which makes sense considering just the one year of playing the later in high school.
Most advisors would probably look at the situation and say basketball is the obvious choice - and the safer choice. So what steered Evans to football for good? To hear him say it, a little divine intervention,
“It was like a hunch, or just a - I don’t know, like God whispering in my ear like, ‘Yo, [you’re] doing this for a reason,” Evans said. “I went on an unofficial visit to Texas A&M which is 3 hours from where I’m from. ...I wasn’t committed to basketball or football and they [the football team] were getting ready for the Cotton Bowl and I was just at the facility watching practice saying man I could come here and play early, I’m already better than these guys.”
Of course, the three NFL players had to talk pro football as well. Plenty was mentioned about how productive Evans has been since entering the league. Particularly the fact Evans started his career with six straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons and is halfway to his seventh. Evans didn’t get there easily though having faced some of the league’s best shutdown corners in during his time in the NFL. Asked by Jordan who the toughest defensive back has been to play, Evans spoke candidly about some of the best opponents he’s faced,
“(Marshon) Lattimore is good,” Evans said. “Patrick Peterson (Arizona Cardinals) I would say, he’s probably the toughest in my career, like early on. Three years ago I played against him, and usually I love when guys press me, and he was one-on-one a lot of the game too, and he was just so physical and smart and knew the route was coming. Ball skills through the roof, and he was that deal.”
Other cornerbacks like Casey Hayward, James Bradberry, Janoris Jenkins, Marlon Humphrey, and Marcus Peters also received praise from the All-Pro receiver.
Finally, every conversation with Evans has to turn to Harry Potter, right? When prompted, Evans proudly proclaimed,
“I’m Gryffindor all day. Gryffindor...I (have) my mask ready, my Harry Potter S**t, ready.”
For Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans who like getting a peak behind the NFL curtain this episode has a little bit of everything, and it comes in a more relaxed delivery as all three view each others as professional peers.
It’s an episode worth listening to as we all await Monday Night Football for Week 11 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Los Angeles Rams, when Mike Evans will hope to work a little of his own magic to get his team to 8-3 on the season.