– From the Buccaneers community public relations department
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced on Thursday Mike Evans as its nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, presented by Nationwide. Considered the league’s most prestigious honor, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. This is the second consecutive year that Evans has been nominated for the award. Each of the league’s 32 nominees were announced on Thursday.
“I’m humbled to be considered for such a prestigious award,” said Evans. “There are so many NFL players and athletes who pay it forward and are committed to making a difference in their communities – I’m just proud to do my part.”
Since entering the league in 2016, Evans has been a servant leader to the communities of Tampa Bay and his hometown of Galveston, Texas – something that remained unchanged in 2020. When the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping the nation, Evans jumped in to help, committing $100,000 from the Mike Evans Family Foundation to support United Way Suncoast and the Galveston community to assist relief efforts. He continued his support by participating in the Twitch Steam Aid, a 12-hour gaming event that raised more than $2.7 million for the World Health Organization.
This month, Evans celebrates the third year of the Mike Evans Family Foundation, created with his wife, Ashli, to support students and families in need. Annually, the foundation hosts a variety of events including the “Catch for Christmas”, a holiday effort that raises money for victims of domestic violence, provide gifts for local children and helps fund college scholarships for students – a tradition they are continuing this December.
Evans has embraced the virtual nature of giving back in 2020 while remaining active in team and league initiatives. This summer, he helped surprise one of four winners of the inaugural Buccaneers Girls In Football Scholarship with a special video call to congratulate the recipient for paving the way for other girls. Evans also spoke out on the importance of voting as the elections became a focal point of the league’s social justice efforts, helping the team launch BUCSVOTE, a public service campaign promoting voter registration and participation.
And earlier this year, Evans formed a special bond over Zoom with Marco Solis, a 23-year-old patient at Moffitt Cancer Center battling metastatic colorectal cancer. Evans was inspired by Marco’s positive outlook despite his terminal prognosis and supported the family with care packages and financial assistance leading up to Marco’s passing in July. Evans hosted the Solis family at the Buccaneers-Packers game in Week 6 to greet them in person for the first time, during which he took the field for warm-ups in specially-designed cleats honoring Marco and the way he helped uplift others in his final months battling the disease.
Lending support to those in need is not a trendy move for Evans – it’s the norm. Over the years he has raised money for victims of the Jacksonville Landing shooting; covered funeral costs for a Florida family that received just $4 from the state following a wrongful death suit; and provided financial support for a former classmate who suffered serious injuries. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Evans’ foundation hosted its inaugural golf tournament to present a check for $25,000 to fund need-based scholarships for students at the University of South Florida. To further his foundation’s mission of serving students from low-income families, Evans also donated $40,000 to establish scholarship funds at his alma mater, Texas A&M. These efforts build on the numerous “silent” acts of kindness Evans has carried out over the years as he remains committed to serving others, and not the fanfare associated with it, in his daily life.
On the field, Evans remains one of the premier wide receivers in the NFL. Along with Randy Moss, he is the only player in NFL history to start his career with six consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. The three-time Pro Bowler is the youngest receiver in NFL history to 7,000 career receiving yards (26 years, 81 days) and is the Buccaneers franchise leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Evans also holds the franchise record for most receiving yards (1,524) and touchdowns (12 – twice) in a season – adding to a list of accolades that is sure to grow.
As a nominee, Evans will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
For the third year in a row, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LV. The 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air the week of Super Bowl LV, on CBS.
All 32 nominees will receive a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of their choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide’s 6th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee’s last name. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most between December 10 and January 17 will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear. New this year, fans can win NFL Shop gift cards and additional money for their favorite nominee’s charity. Each Monday during the #WPMOYChallenge, Nationwide will ask fans to respond on Twitter with their favorite nominee and one randomly selected fan each week will win a $100 NFL Shop gift card and $2,500 for their favorite nominee’s charity.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com