View some of the top photos of WR Mike Evans from the 2017 season.
I was lucky enough to not only sit down with Mike, but his wife Ashli as well, to talk everything from how they've built their relationship as one of mutual support and admiration, to potential ideas for a ninth Harry Potter movie.
To start off, Ashli and I conspired a little bit. I asked her some questions about herself with the intent on asking Mike the same questions to see how well he knows his wife of two years. It did not disappoint. This is Behind the Buccaneers with Mike and Ashli Evans:
Carmen: Ok, so we're going to start with some relationship-testing questions. What is Ashli's favorite color?
Mike Evans: Uhh..
CV: This was supposed to be an easy one.
CV: Yes! When is your anniversary?
ME: Come on. Uh [looks at Ashli then looks at a tattoo on his wrist] February 13!
CV: Alright, alright. What is your favorite meal that Ashli cooks for you?
ME: That's hard because I like all of them. But I like that Mexican casserole.
CV: Good answer. What size shoe does she wear?
ME: In women's?
Ashli Evans: See? Didn't I tell you he was going to say that?
ME: Seven in women's.
ME: Is it up or down?
AE: In between.
ME: …and a half!
CV: You were going there. What's her favorite movie?
ME: It's either Dirty Dancing or Bring It On.
CV: It's Bring It On.
ME: I love that movie too.
CV: Speaking of movies, I heard you went to see a movie on your first date?
ME: It was The Call with Halle Berry. 2013!
CV: Impressive. Well done. Mike, I notice that you promote your wife's blog a lot and you have it as your website on your social media pages. What does it mean to support Ashli and all her efforts and where does that stem from?
ME: That's my wife. We're one. Whatever she likes, whatever is making her happy, I'm for it. She has interests in life as well as I do. She's a good person, she loves giving back. She's behind all my efforts to give back. She's the main one helping me.
CV: Well you guys launched the Mike Evans Family Foundation together as well. You have a long-term contract and you really do have the opportunity to make a huge impact here in this community as well as in Texas. Can you talk about how you've become more connected to Tampa in that regard?
ME: I love it out here. The fans have been nothing but great to me. They've never really bashed me or anything like that. I've never ran into anyone that has disrespected me or anything like that. Kids need help in this community just as much as where I'm from so I'm willing to help and now I have the means and the resources to help.
CV: That's awesome to hear. So, you guys have this kind of cohesive relationship now, but how did you guys get your start? When did you meet? How did you meet?
ME: [Looks at Ashli] you wanna take this?
AE: Sure. We met back in 2013 through mutual friends and he's been in love with me ever since.
CV: Well that was my next question- when did you realize that she was it? Apparently right away.
ME: Naw, she used to hear about me all the time and said 'I gotta go meet this dude'.
CV: He said, she said, folks. When did you end up proposing?
ME: I proposed my rookie year, I think we were about to play the Packers. Second to last game of the year. We had an early Christmas because you know, we can't really do Christmas, so we had our families come out. I planned to propose to her on a Friday and I was practicing all week. I wish they had film of me on the side during practice. Guys were doing drills and stuff and coming to the sideline and I was like, 'this is how I'mma do it' and then I'd practice 'Ashli Nicole Dotson will you marry me?' and I'd get on my knee and propose to some of my teammates. I was nervous doing that! I was like how am I going to do this?
CV: You practiced proposing to your teammates?
ME: Yeah! And then I was asking my older teammates like should I do it now? Is it too soon? Or what? And they were like, man if you're happy just pray about it and if you feel like she's the one then you should do it. I thought about it and I just did it. I got a ring. Louis Murphy was with me when I got the ring, actually. Got it from Tiffany's. And then I put it in – she wanted some Louboutins for Christmas and so I put the ring box in the shoe box. She opened it and I had my little brother record it before. I was like, 'hide it, I'mma bring out this last gift'.
AE: Yeah, I opened the shoe box and then I see a little box and I'm like okay, it's like earrings or something, he just put it all together. But then he like came right beside me and got on one knee and I was just like shaking.
ME: I was nervous, too. I wish I would have had a better line. It worked though, so two years later…
CV: And now you have your wife and two daughters. You're outnumbered.
ME: Hey, but their size combined- they probably aren't even my size yet, though.
CV: Yeah, but your daughters are going to grow up. You're going to have two teenage daughters on your hands at some point.
ME: Ooh. Yup.
CV: Do you think your tattoos will help to scare off their boyfriends?
ME: I don't know. People do stereotype me, huh? We'll see when it gets to that point how I'm going to feel about it.
CV: You're already starting to tense up. I can see it.
ME: If they bring home a guy like me, how I was in high school, nope. They're going to have to wait until they get out my house. Then they're good.
CV: Well, if you actually look at your tattoos – you have a Harry Potter tattoo, right? They're not that scary.
ME: Oh yeah [points to elbow] Deathly Hallows right there. I might get another one, too. The Gryffindor symbol, maybe.
CV: Would you be a Gryffindor, you think?
ME: Oh yeah.* *I have an idea for the ninth movie and I think everybody would love it.
CV: What is it?
ME: I can't spill the beans. I only gotta talk to J.K. [Rowling].
AE: Tell her about the [tattoo] you just got.
ME: Oh yeah, I got the Bucs helmet right here [points to his chest]. I also have a rose, with my mom's name redone and A&M.
CV: What else are you into?
ME: Video games.
CV: Fortnite? We heard that you were playing Fortnite when you got the call from the Bucs about your long-term contract?
AE: Oh my god.
ME: I didn't win! I was on the phone with my agent and he called me and it's one of those games that you can't pause. If you play with teammates, you can't let them down. If somebody gets knocked down you get to revive them. I just muted the TV and I was on the phone with my agents and we were talking about the deal and it was great. I lost that game but that was awesome news.
CV: Well yeah, I think that would make up for losing one game of Fortnite.
ME: I've played so many and I win one in every 50, probably.
CV: That's it?
ME: That sh—is hard.
CV: Do you have certain teammates you play with here?
ME: Donovan Smith. He's the only one I've really played with. He's ok.
CV: Ok, so what's next for you here?
ME: Win a lot of games hopefully. Playoff appearances. Hopefully bring in a Super Bowl. That's the ultimate goal. That's what everybody wants. Big paydays and contracts, that's great and all but it's just extra. Being able to compete at the highest level and having your name mentioned as one of the top guys in the league is what drives me. I'm just trying to be the best I can be.