Spring 2021 Magazine

Former Tennessee Titans DL Josh Evans asks for prayers in cancer battle

Former NFL defensive lineman Josh Evans played 71 career games with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, battling in the trenches as he witnessed the franchise’s relocation and appearance in its only Super Bowl, in January 2000.

Now, Evans faces a battle of a much different kind: kidney cancer.

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Evans received his diagnosis in January. Thirteen hours of surgery followed as his right kidney and parts of his pancreas and small intestine were removed. He had been doing well, before pain sent him back to hospital.

There, he learned that the cancer had spread to his spine and liver. It is news, he admitted, that worries him. In his grim situation, Evans has found solace in prayer and has asked others to pray for him as well.

“I’ve been scared — I’m scared now,” Evans said this week on the Titans’ official website. “I’m fighting hard, man, I promise you that. It ain’t easy. But I’m fighting and I’m praying I can get through this and I can get myself together. I am not going to give up, regardless of the news I get.

“And I want everybody out there talking to God for me, if they will. Please pray for me. Talk to God for me.”

Evans, now 47 years old, was born in Langdale, Alabama. He played college football at the University of Alabama at Birmingham but went undrafted in 1995, eventually finding his way to the Houston Oilers. He was with the Oilers as a rotational piece for two seasons before the franchise left for Tennessee.

He worked his way into a starting role and was a key cog on the Titans’ Super Bowl team.

“I’m telling you, those days with the Titans, I had so many good times. Going to the Super Bowl and everything I experienced. When I talk to God, I know I am so blessed. I had so many great teammates, and I had so many good times. I had the time of my life.”

Yet intermingled with his triumphs were a series of mistakes that Evans said he now regrets. He served a four-game suspension at the start of the Super Bowl season due to a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. He missed all of the following season for another violation.

Evans signed with the New York Jets in 2002 and played his final three NFL seasons there. He finished his career with 21.5 sacks and 141 combined tackles.

With God’s help, Evans said he has been able to overcome regret from some of his past decisions and reflect on the many ways God has blessed his life.

“I have a great family. I was able to play in the NFL. I’ve been to Russia and Switzerland. I did things in my life I never thought I would do in life. I had a great life, man,” Evans said. “God has given me so much in life. Now, I can’t cry just because I have cancer. I have to fight through this, and with the help of God and my family and friends, I am just going to keep on fighting.”

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