Tanner McEvoy may have a future in the esports world once his professional football playing days are over.
McEvoy, the Seahawks wide receiver and special teams standout who also played safety, quarterback and running back in college at Wisconsin, showcased even more of his versatility on Tuesday night at Bellevue Square, where he took the title of Microsoft Store Pro Athlete Charity Fortnite Tournament champion to earn $50,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
The inaugural competition featured McEvoy competing alongside several of his NFL brethren who were playing Fortnite from various Microsoft Store locations around the country, including a pair of Seahawks teammates in running back Rashaad Penny, who was in San Diego, and defensive end Rasheem Green, who was in Los Angeles. The entire video game event was streamed live online for fans to follow the action as it unfolded.
"I've been gaming a long time," McEvoy said in his winner's interview. "I started off with mostly a lot of sports games, then obviously Call of Duty was a big thing, then with Fortnite coming out it's kind of taken over and I've played that mostly for the past few months."
As McEvoy notes, Fortnite, which features a player-versus-player shooter-survival battle royale-type environment, has exploded in popularity over the past year, including within many NFL circles. Among those competing alongside Seattle's McEvoy, Penny and Green was former Seahawks tight end Luke Willson, who's now with the Detroit Lions, former University of Washington Husky John Ross III, who's now a receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, and Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman Rodger Saffold, who founded his own esports team. The competition's final round saw McEvoy and his Fortnite partner Simon face off against Saffold, who was paired with a professional Fortnite player.
"Yeah, after watching about 30 seconds of him play you could realize that kid was by far a professional and does this for a living," McEvoy said of facing Saffold's squad in the final. "But I'm not going to lie to you guys, I do put some hours in. This just didn't happen overnight. I think Simon and I both can definitely say that we've definitely logged a few hours in and it's just great to get this done and get a lot of money to a great organization."
McEvoy said to keep an eye out for some Fortnite-themed touchdown celebrations when players get back to football this fall.
"I think there's probably going to be a few coming from the players, just knowing how popular this game is," he said. "But hopefully if I do get in the end zone I can break something out for you guys."