NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Shrek was released in theaters on April 22, 2001.

Several Titans teammates thought popular defensive lineman Josh Evans bore a resemblance to the cartoon ogre, voiced by Mike MyersJoshEvans

I’ve always smiled when thinking of Evans, who passed away Friday at 48 after a cancer fight, recalling the Shrek story that made so many on the team and in the press corps laugh.

The good-natured Evans, laughed too – up to a point.

Details of some of these old stories get away from me, and I texted Jim Wyatt to see if our collective memories jived on this one. He mentioned he did an entry on it in his 2004 book, Tales from the Titans Sideline. When I couldn’t find it, my wife went to one of the shelves I’d already perused, spotted it in three seconds and handed it right to me.Shrek

After one teammate placed a Shrek doll in Evans' locker during training camp a few months after the movie came out, Joe Salave’a got hold of a sizable cardboard cutout of the cartoon ogre and deposited it near Evans’ locker.

“I guess because I carry myself with such prestige and highness these fellas feel like they have to make a joke about me,” Evans said, per Wyatt. “They can’t find any flaws so they have to say I look like [Shrek]. But you have to admit, he does have some cute eyes.”

That was classic Evans, fun.

But classic Evans was also intense, always a fighter.

Wyatt wrote that when a reporter had the nerve to call Evans Shrek, the joke came to an abrupt end.

As I recall, I was out of town for a few days and missed the whole thing. When I returned my media friends, and maybe a few players, egged me on, and boom, I said something like, “What’s up Shrek” and sealed his fate.

Shrek got folded over Evans’ knee, wadded up and tossed into the garbage can.

Evans was a real character, who also battled substance abuse issues during his 10 NFL seasons. Six were with the Oilers/Titans, who grabbed him after Dallas first signed him as an undrafted out of UAB and then released him. He was suspended for the 2000 season. 

Jim Washburn was Evans’ defensive line coach for three years in Tennessee. He visited Evans two or three weeks ago.

I asked Washburn to characterize Evans as a player.

“He was always laughing and smiling,” Washburn said. “We had a bunch of first-round picks in there, but he was the heart and soul of that group, he was the leader of that group. They gravitated to him because players value toughness.

“He never complained, he never made any excuses. He fought until everything was over. The offensive line just hated his guts in practice. If he lost a pass rush one-on-one, he wouldn’t stop until he won. Sometimes we’d say damn, just let him win.”

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