TAMPA, Fla. — Bucs receiver Mike Evans needs 387 yards to become the first player in NFL history to start his career with seven straight 1,000-seasons. But Thursday, he made headlines for his work off the field.
The league announced that Evans is the Bucs' nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award to honor a player's community service.
Evans started the Mike Evans Family Foundation to help students reach what he calls the "end zone of life."
"It’s definitely a blessing, and that’s how I’ve viewed my life," Evans said Thursday via video chat. "I’ve been very blessed and highly favored. I always told myself if I ever grew up to have money I’d help even more people than I do when I didn’t have any money."
The Foundation is just a small part of Evans' community involvement. This year, he's also helped raise more than $2 million to help COVID-19 relief efforts.
"God blessed me with this opportunity. I’m just trying to pay it forward while I can," he said.
Evans has hauled in 11 touchdowns this season, despite playing through hamstring and ankle injuries. But he says getting this team to the playoffs is a top priority.
"We're in a good spot. A lot of guys that have been here have never even been in this spot," Evans said. "The season hasn’t gone how we’ve wanted it, but we’re definitely happy with the opportunity to make it to the playoffs."
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians knows his top receiver is always focused on team success.
"I’ve been around a lot of great receivers. Can’t say I’ve ever been around one as unselfish as he is. He just wants to win," Arians said. "It’d be great if he gets a thousand. It means we're doing something really, really, good. But it’s not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal right now is to win every game."
The 7-5 Bucs host the 6-6 Vikings Sunday at 1 p.m.
The winner of the Walter Payton Award will be announced the week of the Super Bowl.