Senior editor Mike Bevans, the guiding hand behind this week's pro football preview package, is not the kind of guy you find careering around the bases of a softball diamond or rushing to daylight in a touch football game on his days off. Unlike many thirtysomething, deskbound American males, he doesn't relive the athletic highlights of his youth, because he didn't have any.
As a lumbering Little League first baseman in Baltimore, Bevans hit some opposite-field doubles—"Anyone else would have had a few triples," he says—and he quit peewee football after the third practice. He didn't survive the first cut for his ninth-grade basketball team and spent a season on the jayvee rifle team without getting a chance to shoot in a match. He even had to be saved from drowning in his high school swimming pool. "I was sports editor of the school newspaper, so I wrote a lot about my phys-ed teachers," says Bevans. "It was the only way I could pass gym."
But a career was born, and when Bevans went off to Virginia Commonwealth University in 1970, he began working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, taking high school football results over the phone on Friday nights. He spent nine years at the Times-Dispatch, working his way up to become the paper's Atlantic Coast Conference beat writer.
He moved down Interstate 64 to the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot as a writer-editor in 1979, and shortly afterward the sports columnist job opened up. When sports editor George McClelland filled it with another writer, Bevans went to the boss to vent some steam. "George fired back that I was not a good enough writer to be the columnist and that my future was as an editor," says Bevans. "I didn't have an argument for him then, and I don't have one for him now."
In 1981 Bevans went to the Philadelphia Inquirer and was quickly promoted to assistant sports editor. Then it was on to the Dallas Times Herald as executive sports editor, to New York Newsday as a senior sports news editor and to The National as a senior editor. That's where SI found him in March, two blocks away in Manhattan.
So far he has been delighted with the opportunity to focus on pro football rather than having to react to all the volatile goings-on in big sports towns like Philadelphia, Dallas and New York. "I knew I had made the right choice to leave newspapers," says Bevans, "when George Steinbrenner fired Bucky Dent and it didn't mess up my day."