Raiders’ Evans Puts Delusions Aside
In the looking glass, Vince Evans studies his handsome features, strokes his chin and, with exhausted resignation, observes:
“Old boy, that vulgar hour has arrived to enter the real world, joining the great American work force. We are talking 9-to-5. We are talking everyday wages, waiting in line and promises from people who are going to get back to you, but don’t.”
Evans is ready to face it. At least he hopes he is. Now heading for 36, he has engaged mainly in play since junior high. It has been basketball, baseball and especially football--at which he would distinguish himself as a USC quarterback, voted most valuable player in a Rose Bowl game.
He would perform in the Liberty Bowl and the Hula Bowl, all the while a child of subsidy.
“Since high school,” he recalls, “everything has been done for me.”
The path would lead to the Chicago Bears, whom he served for seven years. For millions that were promised, but not delivered, he would shift to the Chicago Blitz, moving on to the Denver Gold.
Mothballed, primarily because the Gold was mothballed, Evans would be captured by the Raiders, dropped and captured again.
“But it seems to be over now,” he says. “I am preparing to attack what coverage the world is throwing at me.”
It is tougher than beating the nickel package.
“I don’t have special training in business,” Evans confesses. “But I like to feel my values are straight. I am ready for the disappointment and rejection that lie ahead. A lot of guys coming out of sports can’t handle it. They fall into a terrible state of mind, bitter and confused. That’s unless they were lucky enough to have made the big money--and saved it.”
Nothing on earth is more pathetic than a washed-up athlete who is broke. Money can stand between one and his dignity, a brace against those phone calls that aren’t returned.
“What line of work are you pursuing?” Evans is asked.
“A friend of mine from USC is leasing and operating a public golf course in Arcadia,” he answers. “I am serving as his assistant, learning the business. We would like to lease other courses. This appeals to me.”
“How did you get involved with golf?”
“After playing football at Denver,” he replies, “I got into real estate sales. That died when real estate died. But I took up golf, playing with clients and colleagues. I like golf. A player doesn’t get booed. He doesn’t get sacked. And he doesn’t get intercepted.”
Waiting for a football job to turn up one time, Evans found employment giving estimates for a company that installed conduits in electrical power plants.
He knew little about conduits. At first, he thought they might be items related to safe sex.
Evans also tried selling Mercedes-Benzes and, at one juncture, took a post as sales representative for a pharmaceutical house, hawking home-care units.
Says Vince: “Making the transition from sports to the real world isn’t as hard if the athlete doesn’t retain delusions of grandeur.
“He must learn to show up on time for appointments. He must be responsible for the promises he makes. And he must learn to live without a team press agent, sheltering him and opening doors for him. It’s an adjustment many athletes aren’t prepared for.”
“Coming out of orbit, are their expectations too high?” Evans is asked.
“Many I have seen set themselves up for disappointment by expecting too much. They actually believe, while things are going good, that people posing as their friends will be there when things aren’t going good.”
Many grow disappointed, too, with the media, which drop performers who were yesterday’s news for those who are today’s.
“I have tried hard to understand the ground rules,” Evans says. “When you are having your fling, the writers are around you. But when you bow out, you bow out alone.”
Smart ones who write come to respect the same ground rules. Lose your space, lose your friends.
We ask Vince: “Do you think the Raiders will make a third run at you?”
“Actually, they have asked me to come to camp,” he answers. “But I’m not sure that is best for me. They have Steve Beuerlein as a second quarterback.”
Whatever Beuerlein’s skills, the record shows he has yet to learn to give estimates on conduits for electrical power plants.