Former Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Josh Evans lost his battle with cancer. He was 48.
Evans joined the Houston Oilers in 1995 and played for the franchise through its move to Tennessee, including being a key starter on the Titans’ 1999 Super Bowl team.
Evans left the Titans as a free agent and signed with the New York Jets in 2002 and played the final three seasons of his 10-year career there. He was suspended by the NFL for the 2000 season due to a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.
Evans, who played at Alabama-Birmingham, was undrafted but established himself as a solid player for the Titans, playing in 71 games with the franchise.
The defensive lineman was a mainstay on the Titans defensive front on the Titans’ Super Bowl team along with Jevon Kearse, Kenny Holmes and John Thornton.
"He was a guy that everybody loved and was a great leader," said former Titans receiver and Evans' teammate Chris Sanders. "He made everybody better. I will truly miss him."
Perhaps the biggest highlight of his Titans career came in the AFC Championship Game at Jacksonville when he sacked Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell for a safety. Titans return man Derrick Mason then returned the free kick for a touchdown as the Titans broke the game open with that nine-point swing on their way to a 33-14 victory and their only conference championship win to date.
Evans had been diagnosed with kidney cancer in January 2020 and spent a time in a Georgia facility undergoing treatment for the disease. He had been visited there by his former position coach Jim Washburn and some former teammates as well.
"He was a warrior," Washburn said. "Never gave up, never complained, never made excuses. Just fought till he had nothing left in football and against the sickness. He knew Jesus as his personal savior. It was an honor and a privilege to coach him."
Evans had 21.5 sacks in his career, including 14.5 of those for the Titans franchise. He had 29 tackles for loss, including 17 of those with the Titans.
Evans was honored as a 12th Titan this past season in week six vs. Houston and also was inducted into the Alabama-Birmingham Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020.
Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk released a statement to the team's website that read, "I am so sad to hear that our Titans family lost Josh Evans today. His fight against cancer was one of courage and strength and his teammates were by his side encouraging him throughout that fight. We will remember his big personality and his even bigger smile. We send our condolences to his family and friends in this difficult time."