From Amazon driver to the NFL: Evan Heim realizes football dream with the Detroit Lions

Heim began career at Minnesota State-Mankato

Evan Heim cannot believe this is real life. He’s practicing with the Detroit Lions.

DETROITEvan Heim cannot believe this is real life. He’s practicing with the Detroit Lions.

What a journey it’s been for him, beginning with his D-2 career at Minnesota State-Mankato.

“Everything was going great in my career,” Heim said. “My senior year, I think I was 48-6, a two-time all American. Twenty-eight scouts came out to see me.”

But COVID derailed plans for a Pro Day that year and he wasn’t drafted in the 2020 draft. Heim gave himself one more year to live out his dream. He was working out three hours per day in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“I was just working out, then I thought, ‘Well, training is still costing money and I don’t have any. I need to get a job.’ Originally, I started working construction, digging sewers and laying pipe, but then when it got colder, I started working at Amazon,” Heim said. “I would work out in the morning for three hours and then work there the rest of the day.”

The job itself was easy enough, delivering packages, but there were strings attached.

“I got bit by a dog twice,” Heim said. “One day I was dropping off a package and the next thing I know, a dog bit me in the hamstring. It clamped down on my ankle and I have a scar.”

Nothing would deter this 24-year-old, though he did have moments of doubt. For instance, right after the 2021 draft when he didn’t hear his name. But then, he got a call that would change it all.

“I was taking a shower, thinking that probably football was over,” Heim said. “I just wasted 18 months doing odds and ends, I should have started my career. Then, I get a call from agent. I was thinking, ‘this is him telling me I’m not going anywhere.’ Instead, he said ‘lace up your cleats you’re going to Detroit.’ It was one of the best moment ever.”

Coach Dan Campbell said he appreciates Heim’s grit and perseverance.

“I do appreciate that a lot because he’s moving along with his life. It’s like, ‘This is what I’ve got to do right now. This is what I’m doing and I’m not sitting around on the couch sulking. It’s time to move on and put your best foot forward.’ So, I do appreciate that.

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Jamie anchors sports coverage on Local 4 News Saturdays at 6 & 11 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m., in addition to hosting Sports Final Edition.