ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – You know him as the top wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You know him for his sprints down the sidelines and for his captivating catches. Essentially, he is programmed to make the opposing defenses look like they are sleeping on the job.
However, did you also know that Mike Evans is dedicated to supporting the people in this community?
Evans is as humble as he is competitive and he does not typically like to comment on what he does for other people off of the football field. Mike, I am sorry to blow your cover but this gesture meant the world to a grieving family in St. Petersburg.
“I am so sorry for your loss. I heard Michael was a big fan of mine and it’s humbling to hear that. I hope I make him proud.”
A letter and a signed football arrived unexpectedly at the Schiff home on a Tuesday in November.
“I just broke down in tears,” admitted Ned Schiff. “It was such a thoughtful gesture.”
The package came from Mike Evans.
“Mike Evans was Michael’s favorite player,” Ned explained.
Ned’s 19-year-old son Michael died in a car crash in Pennsylvania in October.
“Michael was an amazing young man,” said Ned. “He had a heart of gold. He just loved people and he would always have you laughing, sometimes with him and sometimes at him.”
Michael was a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg where he was studying architecture. He graduated from Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, which is where he met Brett Danyali.
“We hit it off over sports,” said Brett. “We were in the same fantasy league. Every single year, he would take Mike Evans in the first or second round.”
“When Mike came about,” recalled Ned, “he just locked into him, probably because of how he played and how competitive he was and, knowing Michael, he does his research on things, he probably found out what a great human being he was.”
Evans started the Mike Evans Family Foundation about three years ago to support children from low-income families. He has made multiple donations through his foundation including pledging $100,000 for COVID-19 relief efforts.
When Brett called the Buccaneers, Evans answered the call.
“I left a message about Michael,” said Brett, “telling them what happened and how big of a fan he was.”
The team responded to Brett one week later.
“They said, ‘We’ve had Mike Evans write a letter to his family and we just need you to give us the address,’” said Brett.
That package arrived at the Schiff home unexpectedly.
“It really was touching,” said Ned. “It touched all of us.”
However, Brett’s plan and Evans’ execution could not have been more deliberate.
“The only reason I wanted to do it was to make the family feel better,” said Brett. “I will never meet a person like Michael Schiff and he was a one of a kind person and I am happy, in a small aspect, I can make them feel better.”
“It is something we will always treasure,” said Ned.
Now, the Schiff family has one of their own messages to return to sender.
“Well thank you, number one, and we are proud of you and keep doing the great work you are doing, even more important than on the field,” said Ned. “The work you are doing off of the field is making a huge difference, so thank you.”
Michael Schiff actually played football for one season in high school, his senior season. Brett convinced him to do it.
Michael bounced around the field playing multiple positions, including wide receiver.
“He caught with his chest a lot and slid when it was unnecessary,” Brett said with a smile, “but it was all for show.”
According to Brett, one of the phrases Michael liked to use to compliment his athletic abilities was, “Like Mike.”
Like Mike Evans.
Like Michael Schiff.
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