It’s hard to know if Heath Evans is the typical NFL player preparing for a lockout, or if he’s the rare exception.
The former Patriots fullback just finished selling every house and property in his possession to help create a much larger nest egg for his wife and two daughters. He sold his home in New Orleans, where he’s spent the past two seasons with the Saints. He also sold his longtime offseason home in West Palm Beach, Fla., where he’s lived most of his life.
So Evans has some cash to fall back on should there be no football, and thus no paychecks, in the near future. The unrestricted free agent currently is renting a home and is ready for any and all possibilities going forward.
Oh, and one more thing: Evans has been interviewing for jobs as a television analyst, a field he should excel in.
NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith would love it if Evans was representative of his union, someone unwilling to buckle or cave in to the owners’ demands. Smith would love it if Evans was the rule, not the exception.
“I’ve sold all my properties in Florida,” Evans told the Herald on Thursday. “I am just footloose and fancy free. I’ve taken all the advice from our PA and their directors along the way in preparing for this, so I’m in a position where I don’t have to touch any investments. My nest egg to live off of has gotten a lot bigger. I can continue to live or move wherever that next job pops up. We’re just positioned for anything and everything.”
Given he’s 32, and a fullback, Evans knows there won’t be a huge market for his services, if and when football resumes. So he’s prepared for three scenarios. And one involves a possible return to New England, if coach Bill Belichick is interested.
“There’s only two places I’m going to play. That’s the New England Patriots. And that’s the New Orleans Saints,” Evans said. “I refuse to lose. I refuse to play for a head coach I’m not absolutely in love with, and these two head coaches (Belichick and the Saints’ Sean Payton) I’d run through a brick wall for. And that’s that.”
Evans said his ties with ownership are stronger in New England, but his foundation, which is dedicated to fostering hope and healing the lives of children and families affected by sexual abuse, has grown tremendously in New Orleans, which puts a check mark in the Saints’ corner.
“I think I still have some good football left in the tank,” Evans said, “but I’ve also got some great opportunities in the broadcasting world, but we’ll see. I’m going to do what’s best for my family. If that’s retire, that’s what it’ll be. I mean, who’s to say one of these two great organizations will want me back? That’s kind of where I’m at.
“The good thing is, I’ve played 10 years. I don’t have anything left to prove. I was a chubby white boy from Palm Beach, Fla., who’s played a decade in the NFL. There’s a lot in me that still wants to play. But there’s a lot of indecision and indecisiveness from two parties that control my future in the football world. I’m kind of planning for the worst and hoping for the best.
But the difficult part is getting job offers from a major network, and I have no idea what the NFL is going to do. So I might basically have to take an offer and retire. I’m not going to sit around and wait on the league and miss out on an opportunity to get in the booth, because I have no idea what’s going to be there.”
Evans has been in two Super Bowls, winning one with New Orleans in the 2009-10 season. He’s taken handoffs from Tom Brady and Drew Brees. He’s blocked for Kevin Faulk and Reggie Bush. He’s been coached by Belichick and Payton.
“I’ve played with two great organizations,” Evans said. “I can walk away now and say I’ve had a blessed career.”
“So did Bill (Belichick). He always tried to shut me up,” Evans said jokingly.
On Friday, Evans will host his third annual Heath Evans Foundation NFL vs. SWAT Softball Showdown charity game in Jupiter, Fla. Typically, some of his former Patriots teammates are among the attendees. This year, no current Pats are scheduled to attend. Evans, however, will again draw a fine cast, with Randy Moss joining Bush, the Bears’ Devin Hester and others.
Should there be a lockout, Evans’ scheduled softball charity event in New Orleans this April will be a casualty since the players won’t be there training.
“Last year, we raised over $150,000 at the one in New Orleans,” Evans said. “That was Year 1 for that event, so you talk about $150-plus walking out the door on a charity, that hurts.”
Evans said the owners and players essentially are arguing over a billion dollars, and who gets how much of the pie.
“We definitely have to get something worked out. The owners are going to have to bend, and the players are going to have to bend in a form and fashion where it doesn’t set the future players back,” he said. “The players that came before put us in a great position. I don’t want to be part of the generation of NFL players that took a deal to appease us here in the present and crush the future players.”