Jahri Evans is one of the best offensive guards in New Orleans Saints franchise history.
His sterling resume speaks for itself: six Pro Bowl appearances and four First-Team All-Pro selections. He’s also a member of the Saints’ 50th Anniversary Team.
Give Evans credit and his fellow offensive linemen for protecting quarterback Drew Brees and opening up running holes for Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister through the years.
The versatile 6’4, 318-lb. Evans helped the Saints win their first Super Bowl title in 2009.
Remarkably, he started all 183 games he played in.
Evans believes no other guard has done what he did during his twelve-year career: do a bit of everything in the trenches.
Should Jahri Evans make it to Canton someday, it will cement his legacy as one of the best guards in the history of pro football.
Jahri Divine Evans was born in Philadelphia, PA on August 22, 1983.
Evans grew up in Nicetown, a northern Philly suburb that didn’t have a good reputation. It’s a seedy part of town riddled with crime and poverty.
He played some neighborhood football but never played organized football until he attended Frankford High School.
Evans told CanalStreetChronicles.com in 2020 local football organizers classified local players according to age and weight during his time.
Since Evans was heavier than most kids his age, he played with the older players.
His mother was against the idea. Nevertheless, Evans took on the older kids on concrete pavements or at the park not wearing any pads.
Jahri Evans was the epitome of toughness at a young age – he would carry that trait with him when he turned pro in 2006.
As soon as Evans enrolled at Frankford High, he walked into the coach’s office and asked him when tryouts were.
Evans promptly showed up for tryouts and made it to the Frankford Pioneers’ junior varsity squad despite pulling his groin in the 40-yard dash.
— Frankford HS (@FrankfordHS) June 26, 2020
Evans played well with the Pioneers in ensuring years. He eventually earned All-Public League honors as a junior.
It seemed Jahri Evans’ prospects of playing college football grew bleak during his senior season at Frankford High.
Evans lifted weights before playing basketball at the local YMCA the summer prior to his senior season.
When he took the court, he broke his leg and missed his entire senior campaign. Surgeons had to insert three pins and a screw in his leg so he could play again, per CanalStreetChronicles.com.
Despite the season-ending injury, Evans had done enough to get the attention of some big-name football programs across the country.
In fact, Evans had four or five shoeboxes filled with letters from various football recruiters during his senior year.
One school which had Evans on its radar was Philly’s Temple University.
However, Evans turned down the Temple Owls because their football program wasn’t successful during his era.
Plus, Evans wanted to get out of the crime-infested streets of Philadelphia.
On the other hand, Bloomsburg University dangled a board of governors scholarship and football money to Evans.
The fact the Bloomsburg Huskies also just came off a national title appearance in 2000 also greatly appealed to Evans.
He then visited the campus and before long committed to the Bloomsburg Huskies’ football program.
Jahri Evans eventually became one of the most decorated offensive linemen in Huskies football history.
College Days With The Bloomsburg Huskies
Jahri Evans majored in exercise science at Bloomsburg University.
Evans redshirted his true freshman year with the Bloomsburg Huskies in 2002.
Evans took the field as a sophomore in the 2003 NCAA season. His offensive line coach Brian McBryan made Evans a backup right and left tackle that year.
Evans made strides during the season but missed the Huskies’ final game with a broken ankle.
With Evans fortifying the Huskies’ offensive line, they won seven of eleven games in 2003.
He took his game to greater heights the following year.
Evans’ outstanding play on Bloomsburg’s offensive line earned him First-Team All-American honors from the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).
Evans also earned Second-Team All-American honors from The Associated Press and the Don Hansen Football Gazette.
He also won the Danny Litwhiler Award as the school’s Male Underclass Athlete of the Year at the end of his junior campaign.
The Huskies promptly won seven of ten games in Evans’ junior season in 2004.
Evans led a Bloomsburg offensive line that helped the Huskies rack up an impressive 284.3 yards on the ground in his senior season.
The Huskies’ average rushing yardage ranked them eighth in the nation in 2005.
Bloomsburg finished with a gaudy 11-1 win-loss record in Danny Hale’s 13th season as Huskies head football coach.
— Saints News Network (@SaintsNews) April 17, 2014
For his part, Jahri Evans piled up on the accolades in his final season of college football.
He earned First-Team All-American honors from the American Football Coaches Association, Daktronics, the Don Hansen Football Gazette, and The Associated Press in 2005.
Evans also won the Robert B. Redman Award as the university’s Male Senior Athlete of the Year. He was also a finalist for the Gene Upshaw Award as the best Division II lineman as a senior.
Evans remembered several scouts taking a look at the Bloomsburg Huskies players who went to the national title game in 2000.
The NFL scouts told him he passed their eye test and they’d come back for him in four or five years’ time, per CanalStreetChronicles.com.
They made good on their promise and gave him another look during the peak of his college football career.
It also turned out Evans’ offensive coordinator’s son was a scout with the Philadelphia Eagles during his college days.
When the Eagles fired him, the New Orleans Saints hired him as a scout in 2006.
He quickly put in a good word for Evans to Saints management. The rest was history: Jahri Evans was officially going to the Big Easy several months later.
Pro Football Career
The New Orleans Saints made Jahri Evans the 108th overall selection of the 2006 NFL Draft.
Evans was the second guard taken in the draft after the Georgia Bulldogs’ Max Jean-Gilles, whom the Philadelphia Eagles selected 99th overall.
Several weeks after Evans signed a rookie deal with the Saints, he went to a local dealership and bought his first car.
4th round pick 108 2006, seems like yesterday. Went straight to the dealership and brought my 1st car remember it like yesterday…
— JAHRI EVANS (@J_7TRE_E) April 26, 2012
It was a tremendous draft haul for the Saints. Their 2006 rookie class helped lay the foundation for their success in the National Football League for the next several seasons.
Aside from Evans, New Orleans also plucked running back Reggie Bush (second overall), Roman Harper (43rd overall), and Marques Colston (252nd overall) from the draft pool.
Saints head coach Sean Payton remembered sizing up Evans and Harper several weeks prior to that draft.
Payton and his staff were able to look at Harper, who played for the storied Alabama Crimson Tide, from every conceivable angle on game tape – sideline, end zone, sideline tight, and end-zone tight.
On the other hand, it was a remarkably different story for the 6’4″, 318-lb. Evans, who hailed from unknown Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.
“When the tape came on Jahri, it kind of came in on a horse and buggy,” Payton told John DeShazier of the Saints’ official website in June 2020.
Payton also said they only had one copy of Evans’ game tape. They had to guard it with their lives because they assumed other teams didn’t have a copy.
When Evans flew to New Orleans, he couldn’t believe the path of destruction Hurricane Katrina left. The category-5 hurricane hit the Gulf Coast region just eight months before the Saints drafted him.
“When I did get to New Orleans to see all the devastation, to see how much of a ghost town it was, it was like, ‘Man, we gotta win and we need to win now,'” Evans told CanalStreetChronicles.com some fourteen years later.
Getting that call by @Saints on @NFL draft weekend was amazing. Once you hit that field, It doesn’t matter if you were drafted or a FA: You worked your A$$ off to get this far. Time to be a Pro, from the classroom to the field. Show up and show out! #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/H7970EPmL9
— JAHRI EVANS (@J_7TRE_E) May 1, 2021
Evans set several goals for himself the moment New Orleans drafted him.
First, he wanted to crack the Saints’ roster.
After he did that and earned a starting spot on New Orleans’ offensive line, he wanted to become the best guard in the National Football League, per DeShazier.
Evans exceeded the Saints’ wildest expectations.
Not only did he start all of New Orleans’ 16 games as a rookie, but he also started every regular-season game for the Saints in his ten-year tenure in The Big Easy.
Evans became firmly entrenched in a Saints offensive line that protected Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees.
He still remembers the day the Saints returned to the former Louisiana Superdome (now known as Caesars Superdome) on September 25, 2006.
“I just know that we went into this game knowing we were not going to lose this game,” Evans told CanalStreetChronicles in 2020.
The Saints, who felt relieved after home games in three different cities during their disastrous 3-13 season in 2005, dominated the Atlanta Falcons from start to finish.
The home team won in dominant fashion, 23-3.
Not only did the Saints enjoy a fabulous homecoming in the Big Easy, but rookie Jahri Evans also enjoyed watching the player he grew up following.
Evans recalled watching his pro football idol, Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, from the sidelines.
He couldn’t believe his defense swarmed Vick and prevented him from wreaking havoc with his lightning-fast feet.
It was a great way to start Evans’ NFL football career.
Better yet, Evans and the Saints won ten games during that memorable 2006 NFL season – a seven-game turnaround from 2005.
Behind stalwarts such as Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Marques Colston, and Deuce McAllister, the Saints made it to the NFC Championship Game for the first time in franchise history.
Unfortunately, they lost to Devin Hester’s Chicago Bears in lopsided fashion, 39-14.
Evans and the Saints took several steps backwards in the next two seasons.
New Orleans won a combined fifteen games in 2007 and 2008 and consequently failed to contend for the postseason.
The Saints came back with a bang in 2009.
The additions of linebacker Jonathan Vilma and tight end Jeremy Shockey the year before helped New Orleans win a franchise-record thirteen games in the 2009 NFL campaign.
The Saints won their first thirteen games before losing their last three. When they went on a season-ending losing streak, many football experts wrote them off.
The Saints, who dealt with Hurricane Katrina just four years earlier, weren’t to be denied.
They beat Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV for their first Super Bowl title in franchise history, 31-17.
New Orleans cornerback Tracy Porter’s 74-yard interception return for a touchdown off Manning in the fourth quarter sealed the deal for the Saints.
For his part, big Jahri Evans accomplished another goal: winning the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Evans never won a title in the high school and college football ranks.
— JAHRI EVANS (@J_7TRE_E) February 7, 2021
Winning the big one in the National Football League meant everything to him.
“Becoming a champion in the NFL – the only time I won a championship in football – is very special to me,” Evans told CanalStreetChronicles in 2020.
Evans also earned six consecutive Pro Bowl berths from 2009 to 2014. He also became a First-Team All-Pro selection from 2009 to 2012.
It’s little wonder Jahri Evans is a member of the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team.
Clearly, when the New Orleans Saints reached the pinnacle of pro football in 2009, Evans enjoyed unprecedented heights in his gridiron career.
Saints: Cam Jordan, Darren Sproles, and Jahri Evans made the 2010 All-Decade Team pic.twitter.com/pk0mLqFHUP
— ᴬˡᵒⁿᵉ ➐ (@LowkeySoulless) April 7, 2020
New Orleans went through several up-and-down seasons after Jahri Evans won his first and only Super Bowl ring.
The Saints averaged nine wins per season from 2010 to 2015. They made it to the postseason three times but never made it past the NFC Divisional Round during that stretch.
The Saints released Evans on February 8, 2016, ending his ten-year stint with the team.
Evans refused an offer for pay cut negotiations so he could remain in New Orleans.
His agent Jerrold Colton broke the news to Philadelphia radio station WIP ( via NOLA.com’s Evan Woodbery) in the winter of 2016.
Evans previously agreed to adjust his contract in March 2015. The move saved New Orleans $4 million against their salary cap that year.
When the Saints waived him a year later, they saved $3.1 million against their salary cap.
Prior to leaving New Orleans, Evans passed on valuable offensive line knowledge to rookie Landon Turner.
Turner said the two of them watched film between team meetings together.
“I tried to play like him, so that was a situation I had to take advantage of,” Turner told NOLA.com’s Herbie Teope in the summer of 2017. “I couldn’t ask for a better person to have in front of me and learn from.”
Evans signed a one-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks on August 6, 2016. Unfortunately, the team released him just a month later.
After Evans’ short stint in the Emerald City, Evans returned to the Big Easy. He signed a one-year deal with New Orleans on September 7, 2016.
The Saints went 7-9 in Evans’ final stint in New Orleans. They missed the postseason for the third consecutive year.
Despite New Orleans’ mediocre campaign, Evans return marked a significant milestone in his pro football career: he became a member of the Saints’ 50th Anniversary Team in 2016.
Evans signed with the Green Bay Packers the following summer. He started fourteen games at right guard and helped protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers went 7-9 in Evans’ lone season in Green Bay. They got off to a hot 4-1 start before losing Rodgers to an injury.
Consequently, the Packers lost eight of their next eleven games and missed the postseason for the first time in eight years.
Super Bowl Champ (XLIV)
4x 1st Team All-Pro
1x 2nd Team All-Pro
NFL 2010s All Decade Team
Fun Fact: He didn’t play football until high school, graduated Top 10 in his class & went on to be a 2x All American at Bloomsburg U of Pennsylvania pic.twitter.com/aVLxDeYffJ
— All Things OL (@allthingsOL) October 1, 2020
Jahri Evans retired from the National Football League following the 2017 NFL season.
Evans firmly believes he’s Pro Football Hall of Fame material. He feels no other guard in football history has done what he did in his twelve-year NFL career.
“There is no guard in history that was able to do what I’ve done,” Evans told CanalStreetChronicles three years after he hung up his cleats. “I was asked to do it all whether it was in New Orleans or Green Bay. And I did it a high level.”
When Evans finally gets that call to Canton, it will validate his status as one of the greatest offensive guards to ever lace up his cleats.
Jahri Evans and his wife Takia have two sons.
Evans had always been active in the community since his early years in the pro football ranks.
He established the Jahri Evans Foundation with his sister Carmella Green in 2008
Evans told NFL player engagement insider Mark Eckel in 2018 his desire to help young football players in the Philadelphia Public League prompted him to launch his foundation.
When the foundation kicked off in 2008, around sixty players signed up for the free football camps. Ten years later, the number grew to four hundred.
The Jahri Evans Foundation also holds cheerleading camps and donates $25,000 in college scholarships annually.
Evans also told Eckel his camps give kids in the Philadelphia area a chance to rub elbows with past and present NFL players.
One NFL player who attended Evans’ camp was Denver Broncos linebacker Zaire Anderson, who won a Super Bowl ring in 2016.
Evans and his other teammates on the Saints offensive line organized holiday bicycle giveaways in 2009 and 2010.
Evans participated in the 2013 United Way Hope of the Holidays campaign to raise funds for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac.
Saints head coach Sean Payton spoke highly of Jahri Evans and Roman Harper when they were inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in the fall of 2021.
“These two gentlemen are part of a draft class that completely changed the culture, and began the pillars of the Super Bowl championship run,” Peyton told John DeShazier.
Evans has been an active businessman during his retirement.
He became a minority owner of the Arena Football League’s (AFL) Philadelphia Soul, Albany Empire, and Atlantic City Blackjacks. He’s also the owner of Venu Restaurant.
He also helps in his wife’s pastry business, Beignet Box. He’s a partner at All Fitness Personal Training and a part-owner of One Hope Wine, per CanalStreetChronicles.com.
Evans has also been dabbling in real estate since his second year in the National Football League.
He’s currently hosting “The All-Pro Philly Show” podcast with Jerrold Colton.
Evans will be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame on June 25, 2022.