Vince Evans – The Relief Pitcher 

As the Bears play the Raiders this week I have to cover a player that played his career for both the Raiders and Bears and became a cult star for each team. In addition, as Brian Hoyer came off the bench at 38 years of age throwing a bomb to help win the game for the Raiders last week against the Patriots, this same player was the original veteran “Relief Pitcher” who came off the bench numerous times and won games for the Raiders. 

Maybe it is ironic that I am a huge Vince Evans fan as his Rose Bowl MVP in 1977 was the same year I was born! 

If you look at the career of Vince Evans it looks pretty mediocre, more INTs than TDs, more losses than wins. As a Raider he was 2-5 as a starter and had an equal number of TDS to INTs. So why does Vince have such a cult/legendary following as a Raider? The reasons are numerous. Firstly, he was one of the very first true athletic QBs. Coming out of USC he was very raw and this dropped him to the 6th round, where the Bears took him. He was the first African American starting QB in Bears and Raiders history (Eldridge Dickey was taken in the first around as an African American QB for the Raiders but never started a game as one). He possessed WR speed and a bazooka arm. In today’s NFL he might have been a star. 

During his 4th season in the NFL in 1980 Evans became the Bears starter. In 10 starts Evans threw for over 2000 yards, ran for over 300 yards and had 19 total TDs. Evans threw 11 TDs in the air and had a NFL leading 8 TDs rushing for a QB and went 5-5 as a starter. That year in back to back games he would have his two more memorable moments as a Bear. 

In a Thanksgiving game against the Lions Evans scored a TD on a 4 yard scramble on the last play of the game to tie the game then Dave Williams returned the first KR TD in OT history to win the Bears the game 23-17. The next week in a record breaking 61-7 win over the Packers Evans would have his best day as a pro going 18-22-316 yards 3 tds 0 ints and a perfect QB rating of 158.3 in the largest margin of victory at Soldier Field. 

Evans regressed as a starter in 1981 throwing 11 tds to 20 ints and was relegated to the bench when the Bears drafted Jim McMahon. He then spent the 1984 and 1985 seasons with the USFL’s Chicago Blitz and Denver Gold and 1986 out of football. 

During the 1987 strike Evans got a second chance to play in the NFL. Evans would be the Raiders strike starter on their replacement “scab” team . Evans led them to a win over KC and played well enough in his other two starts throwing for 630 yards 5 tds 4 ints and running for 144 yards on only 11 carries ! In those 3 starts.

This replacement season play would lead to Evans being the Raiders third string or second string QB till 1995. 

In 1992 Evans came off the bench in the season finale leading them behind against the defending Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins 21-20 throwing a game winning TD on 4th down to Tim Brown with only seconds left on the clock. 

His most famous and important game in relief for the Raiders came against the Jets in 1993 when Jeff Hostetler was benched after throwing 2 INTs. Evans threw two bombs to James Jett and Alexander “if loving you was wrong I don’t want to be” Wright (as Chris Berman used to call him) with the Raiders winning the game on the final play of the game when Nick Bell ran in the game winning TD. This win would end up being the difference in the Raiders making the playoffs in 1993! 

In 1994 Evans came off the bench and threw a TD to Rocket Ismail in a Monday night win over the Chargers. 

In 1995 his final hooray came in a start against the Colts for an injured Hostetler. Evans had just turned 40 years old that summer. In the 1990s 40 year old QBs did not grow on trees like today as QBs took way more punishment 30 years ago and were forced to retire earlier.  Evans threw for 335 yards and two TDs both to Rocket Ismail (one on a 73 yard TD bomb and the other on a 46 yard TD bomb) to beat the Colts. This would be the final win of Evans career and at the time he became the oldest QB and the only QB over 40 years of age in NFL history to throw for 300 yards in a game!!! 

However, what Evans will be forever remembered for in Raiders folklore is coming off the bench to win games including that all important 1993 win against the Jets which would be the difference in the Raiders making the playoffs that year (the Jets would finish 8-8 that year and if the Jets had beaten the Raiders both teams would have finished 9-7 with the Jets winning the tie breaker). 

Below are Vince Evans Career Highlights, highlights of his perfect game against the Packers in 1980 and highlights of the 1995 against the Colts when he became the oldest player in NFL history to throw for 300 yards in a game! The final video is  an interview with him about his 1977 Rose Bowl MVP.