Yacking Mike EvansMay 20th, 2014
In his first week as a Buccaneer, first round draft pick Mike Evans confessed he lost his lunch at practice. Evans waved it off as not being in peak condition.
That may not exactly be the case.
Andrew Astleford of FoxSportsFlorida.com did some digging in a cool feature about how Evans went from budding young high school basketball star to the No. 7 pick in the draft.
Astleford talked to Evans’ high school basketball and football coaches, and his mom, to get an idea of who Evans, the person is, rather than Evans, the pass-catching freak of nature. Evans is so passionate about playing to the best of his ability, Astleford learned, losing his lunch during a game was almost the norm.
There’s one fact that sums up Evans’ dedication as a competitor late in his time within Ball High School’s basketball program: He threw up on the court. This wasn’t a rare accident. This didn’t happen once or twice. This, after awhile, wasn’t even a shock.
[Ball basketball coach Jerald] Temple predicts that there were six or seven games when Evans was an upperclassman that a delay was necessary to mop up his star’s vomit. A trainer, always on standby, would approach Temple near the bench and say something like, “Just nerves, Coach. Just nerves. Mike plays at a high level.”
That was Evans, high performance and high nerves, each part of his complete package. Sometimes he had to let it all go. “He played with so much passion,” said Temple, who saw Evans average 18.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game as a senior.
Joe remembers talking to Evans at the NFL Scouting Combine asking him who the true Johnny Football was, the celebrity or the football player? Evans, who roomed with Johnny Football on the road and on nights before home games, explained to Joe that the reason Johnny Football got in Evans’ face in the first half of the Chicken Bowl against Duke, grabbing his jersey after Evans was flagged a few times for offensive interference and unsportsmanlike conduct for mouthing off at referees, was because Johnny Football was telling Evans, “I need you.”
In other words, Evans told Joe Johnny Football was trying to settle him down because Evans plays with such a fury and passion to win.
The incidents of puking bring a smile to Joe, and not because it is some sick joke. Joe remembers as a kid reading a book about Glenn Hall, the Hall of Fame goalie for the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1960s. Hall would throw up before each start (but not on the ice) because he was so determined to record a shutout and play to his best.
Then there is the fantastic “America’s Game” espisode of the 1976 Oakland Raiders. Kenny Stabler recounted that before each game, Hall of Fame wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff would “ralph” for 20 minutes. When he was done praying to the porcelain god, he was ready to slice up secondaries.
If two Hall of Famers were known for heaving before games because they got so worked up to play at the highest level, then Joe sort of likes that Evans, too, has those same traits. Might be a sign of things to come.