Bucs two-time Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans is his franchise’s nominee for the 2020 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, widely deemed the league’s highest honor.
This is the second consecutive year Evans, 28, has been nominated for the award, which recognizes outstanding community service activities and on-field excellence.
“It’s the utmost honor to be recognized for this prestigious award,” Evans said Thursday. “I never would’ve thought that I’d be a candidate or a nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year, but it’s definitely a blessing and that’s how I view my life.
“I’ve been very blessed and highly favored. I just feel like it’s my job to help when I can. When I was a kid, I’d always tell 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. God blessed me with this opportunity, and I’m just trying to pay it forward while I can.”
Though his on-field numbers (48 receptions, 613 yards, 11 touchdowns) have mildly decreased during this season of offensive transition, Evans’ production as a community benefactor — both in the bay area and his hometown of Galveston, Texas — seems to have increased.
He committed $100,000 from the Mike Evans Family foundation to support United Way Suncoast and the community of Galveston when the coronavirus began afflicting the nation. He also participated in Twitch Steam Aid, a 12-hour gaming event that raised more than $2.7 million for the World Health Organization.
His foundation, in its third year, again is set to host the “Catch for Christmas,” which raises money for victims of domestic violence, provides gifts for local children and helps fund college scholarships for students.
Earlier this year, he virtually befriended 23-year-old cancer patient Marco Solis, offering care packages and financial assistance to the family until the young man passed away over the summer. Evans paid for Marco’s funeral. Evans then hosted Solis’ family at the Bucs-Packers game in mid-October.
The winner of the Man of the Year award will be announced during NFL Honors, a prime-time awards special to air the week of Super Bowl 55 on CBS. All 32 nominees will receive a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice, while the winner will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of their choice.
“As I’ve been in the league, there’s been so many great candidates,” Evans said. “I just didn’t think I was one of them, and I’m not as outspoken as a lot of the players. So that’s probably why. Early in my career, I didn’t document what I was doing and I still don’t because I don’t really care about the accolades, but it is a tremendous honor.”
Evans has sent kids to college, helped domestic abuse survivors and helped families cope with tragedy.
“We’re all human beings, first and foremost,” he said. “I know I’m a professional athlete and a role model and things like that. But I’m a human being first. I’ve always been this way. Just my bank account has changed. I’m more fortunate to help people out and I’m somebody people look up to.
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“So when I do things it gets seen now, but I’ve always done this. I’ve struggled in the past. My family has struggled with going through domestic violence and things like that. My father passing at an early age. Just the things that I’ve been through. I want to help anyway I can.”
Fans can vote on Twitter by using the hashtag #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee’s last name. For more information on the award, go to http://www.nfl.com/manoftheyear.