Begin to Understand
When he was on the field, he was a force to be reckoned with. At 6-2 and nearly 290 lbs he routinely overpowered much larger offensive lineman. In 1999 he was a beast. He recorded the team’s first playoff sack against the Bills in the Music City Miracle game. Two weeks later he sacked Mark Brunell in the AFC Championship game for a safety. Even though he made some truly great plays during the Titan’s early years he will mostly be remembered for his off the field choices. The player I’m talking about is Josh Evans. He had All Pro talent with a common man’s addition. Josh was suspended five times by the NFL for the use of marijuana. I like many, found it difficult to understand how someone could squander such an opportunity. All that money and fame let alone the privilege of playing a game for a living. Nearly ten years removed from the game, Josh sat down with me to tell his story.
Josh opened with “People just don’t understand. I was surrounded by tragedy, drugs, and violence growing up. It’s all I knew” He lived with his Uncle Kenny and 13 others in a dilapidated two-bedroom home in Central Alabama. Uncle Kenny was his primary male role-model. His uncle was a bigger than life high school football player. “He was my everything.” Kenny was highly recruited by multiple SEC schools and his future seemed bright. It was until Kenny shattered his spine making a bone crushing hit on an opposing running back. The hit left Josh’s uncle paralyzed from the neck down. At the tender age of six he was trusted to care for his bed-ridden uncle. One of his favorite tasks to do for Kenny was to roll his uncle’s joints. If he did it well enough he would be rewarded with a couple of drags off one of the cigarettes. Strike one.
During this time more people around Josh were involved in drugs and violence than those that weren’t. Josh’s Mom was in an abusive relationship that resulted in her being shot in the face at point-blank range. At the age of eight Josh was forced to live with his Aunt and Uncle. Uncle Bobby was a good man but he had problems with drugs as well. He fell victim to one of the most damaging and addictive drugs anywhere. He was addicted to Crack Cocaine. Strike two…
Josh lived with his Uncle Bobby until his Step-father Joe was released from prison. Joe served time for killing a man during a drug dispute. He was released from prison just in time to come home and care for Josh and his Mom. During this time Uncle Kenny died so Josh’s step-dad became his primary role-model. This was another bad turn of events for Josh. See, his step-dad was the biggest drug dealer in the county. Josh use to sneak excess drugs off his step-dad’s dresser so he could sell them to get money for video games and candy. Strike three…
This was only the beginning…I'll tell more this story soon