Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis has been called a lot of things over the years.
Three-time ACL surgery survivor.
NFL Man of the Year winner.
And lately – a dirty player.
That last label has been thrown in Davis’ direction after his helmet-to-helmet hit on Davante Adams in a Dec. 17 game left the Green Bay Packers wideout with a concussion.
Davis received a two-game suspension that was reduced to one game. Adams, who remains in the concussion protocol, went on a lengthy Twitter rant the day after Davis’ hit, which came during an interception return by Colin Jones.
“Game is already dangerous enough and we got Pro Bowl players out here head hunting and saying they ‘didn’t mean to harm me,’” Adams tweeted.
Davis didn’t want to talk about the hit on Adams when he spoke to reporters Thursday for the first time since returning from his suspension. But despite his status as a “repeat offender” after being punished for three head-first hits over the past four seasons, Davis believes he’s been mischaracterized.
“It’s very unfair. I’ve seen a lot of stuff that’s been said. Obviously people are going to form their own opinions based on what they saw,” Davis said. “But at the end of the day I know for 13 years that I’ve played this game the right way. I can rest easy in that.”
Davis watched last week’s 22-19 against Tampa Bay from his living room, calling it a “stressful” experience.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera also thinks the “dirty label” tag misses the mark with Davis.
“The thing that a lot of people have to understand (is) Thomas plays through the ball, through the whistle,” Rivera said. “He’s going to play hard. He’s always in a good hitting position. He never ducks his head. He hits with the front part of his body. He’s a physical player.
“I just think unfortunately when you have a couple of big hits like that and people react to them, some people may (think he’s dirty). But I don’t see that.”