(EDITOR’S NOTE: To listen to Jahri Evans, click on the following link: Ep 135: Hall of Fame Semifinalist Jahri Evans Joins The Show (spreaker.com)
Jahri Evans is one of 28 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023, and consider that an achievement. Not only is he one of five first-year candidates to make it this far, but he’s the only offensive guard … and we all know how much attention that position gets from Hall voters.
“I understand it’s a position that wasn’t valued as much as a center and a tackle,” Evans said on the latest “Eye Test for Two” podcast, “but you have to look at the production and plays.”
Actually, it is valued as much as a center. In fact, it’s valued more. Over the past 24 years, the Hall inducted only two centers to its modern-era classes — Dermontti Dawson and Kevin Mawae – while enshrining six guards.
But that’s about it.
When Kansas City guard Will Shields, a 12-time Pro Bowler, seven-time All-Pro and all-decade choice, was up for election, it took him four tries as a finalist before reaching Canton in 2015. Now, imagine if those credentials belonged to a quarterback, wide receiver or pass rusher. He’d be a first-ballot choice in a nano-second.
But that explains why Evans is in the New Orleans Saints’ Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and why he was chosen to the Saints’ 50th-anniversary team. It also explains why he’s confident that one day he’ll be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, too.
“I do think and believe,” he said, ”that I am one of the best … if not the best … guard that can do all those things: Pass ‘pro’ (protection), run game and be in the screen game. Pull to the right in the run game … pull to the left in the pass game … pull to the left in the run game as well.
“I think that I did do all of those things well — whether there was a quarterback (who) got in the center or the running back (who) got in the center in the shotgun in the run game or the pass game. The film is out there. So I would say the eye in the sky don’t lie.”
Ep 103: Tom Brady Retires, Sean Payton To Broncos, Super Bowl Primer
by Full Press Coverage on February 5, 2023 at 3:49 pm
Around Full Press Coverage
FULL PRESS BETS: NFL MVP Odds: Patrick Mahomes Leapfrogs Josh Allen For Top Spot
FANTASY FOOTBALL: Fantasy Football Value Picks In Every Round
No need to remind voters.
They’ve seen Evans’ resume, and it’s impressive. He was a four-time first-team All-Pro, six-time Pro Bowler, all-decade choice and Super Bowl champion. He was also once the highest-paid guard in NFL history. So that covers a lot of boxes. But he checked another for durability, too, not missing a game in his first seven pro seasons, including the playoffs, and sitting out only nine in his 12-year career.
“It ranks high in my career accomplishments,” Evans said. “(I attribute it to) just body maintenance and understanding what position on the field can get you hurt.”
Yet it was Evans’ extraordinary abilities that gained attention at a position often overlooked – with former Saints’ coach Sean Payton saying that it took exactly three days of the 2006 training camp before he recognized his rookie guard would make an impact. But he didn’t stop there. In describing Evans as “a dominant interior lineman,” Payton also said Evans was “every bit the same level of player” as former Dallas and 49ers’ offensive lineman Larry Allen.
Allen was elected to the Hall in 2013.
“The one thing that I pride myself and my teammates in doing,” said Evans, “was that we were effective in the run game … we were effective in the pass protection … we were effective in the screen game. I don’t think there are any guards in NFL history that can do all three at the level that we all did against the defensive linemen that we faced … I think I did that at a high level for a very long time, and being healthy aided that.”