The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced today wide receiver 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 third consecutive year that Evans has been nominated for the award. Each of the league's 32 nominees were announced today.
"It's an honor to be recognized with the very best in the league for the impact that we make in our communities," said Evans. "I'm blessed to play football for a living, but the true value of our work comes in how we uplift those in need of support. To be nominated three years in a row, it's extremely humbling."
Competitive in his craft and caring in how he treats teammates, fans and community members, Evans is one of the most respected individuals in the Buccaneers organization. The star wide receiver remains true to his values and is a family man – a loving father and husband whose pay-it-forward mentality and humble nature represent the best of the Buccaneers and the National Football League.
Since entering the league in 2014, Evans has been a servant leader to the communities of Tampa Bay and his hometown of Galveston, Texas – something that has continued throughout 2020 and 2021. This month, Evans celebrates the fourth 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, provides gifts for local children and helps fund college scholarships for students – a tradition they are continuing this December.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping the nation, the Evans family jumped in to help, committing $100,000 from their foundation to support United Way Suncoast and the Galveston community to assist relief efforts. Evans 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. Evans has remained active in team and league initiatives, as well. 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. When last year's national elections became a focal point of the league's social justice efforts, Evans also committed to speaking out on the importance of voting, helping the team launch BUCSVOTE, a public service campaign promoting voter registration and participation. Through a digital ad, video messages and a radio announcement, Evans – who acknowledged he did not vote in the 2016 election – encouraged fans to participate in the process, reaffirming that in 2020, he became a voter.
And last season, 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 of 2020. Evans hosted the Solis family at a game 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. Evans' foundation hosts an annual bowling event and golf tournament to raise money and 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 most elite, and consistent, wide receivers in the NFL. He is the only player in NFL history to start his career with seven 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 since 2014, he has the most receiving touchdowns in the NFL. Evans is the Buccaneers franchise leader in career receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns and he also holds team records for most receiving yards (1,524) and touchdowns (13) in a season – adding to a list of accolades that continues 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. All 32 team nominees will be highlighted and recognized for their important work during the week leading up to Super Bowl LVI. The 2021 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air the week of Super Bowl LVI.
All 32 nominees will receive up to 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 7th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote for Evans on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge Evans or #WPMOYChallenge @MikeEvans13_ to support the Mike Evans Family Foundation. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most between December 7 and January 17 will receive a $25,000 contribution to his charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide. In addition, Nationwide will donate $10,000 to the first nominee to receive 1 million votes. More information about the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, including Charity Challenge details and official rules, can be found at http://www.nfl.com/manoftheyear.
Below is a list of Buccaneers Man of the Year nominees, dating back to 2000:
2021 WR Mike Evans
2020 WR Mike Evans
2019 WR Mike Evans
2018 DT Gerald McCoy
2017 DT Clinton McDonald
2016 WR Vincent Jackson
2015 WR Vincent Jackson
2014 WR Vincent Jackson
2013 WR Vincent Jackson
2012 G Davin Joseph
2011 G Davin Joseph
2010 LB Adam Hayward
2009 RB Clifton Smith
2008 QB Jeff Garcia
2007 K Matt Bryant
2006 CB Ronde Barber
2005 LB Ryan Nece
2004 LB Shelton Quarles
2003 S John Lynch
2002 S John Lynch
2001 S John Lynch
2000 LB Derrick Brooks*
*NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner