Life slows down a little for Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis in the summer – but only a little.
The Panthers’ longest-tenured player is hosting a football camp this month, staging a charity car show, squeezing in a vacation and preparing for a 12th NFL season.
Davis recently was named the “Good Guy” award winner by the Pro Football Writers Association for helping the media do its job. We recently caught up with Davis, who shared his thoughts on a number of topics, including Cam Newton’s post-Super Bowl press conference, the so-called curse of the Super Bowl loser and his fortune at having never been diagnosed with a concussion.
Thomas Davis, in his words, on ...
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Newton’s Super Bowl sulk: “When you see the way the season went and how good he was with the media all year long and then for that to happen that way, everybody expected it to happen. And it happened, and we’re moving on from it now. That’s in the past. Cam is a better person today and we’re a better football team than we were when we finished the season.”
How Newton is better five months later: “It’s all about growth and all about being better than you were the day before. And I think that’s something that Cam definitely is right now. You look at him in the OTAs and the way he was able to come out and perform and be that team leader that we need him to be. I think it’s a no-brainer that he’s going to have just as good a season this year as he did last year.”
Losing the Super Bowl despite holding Denver to 194 yards: “You sit back and you reflect a lot on the reason why certain things didn’t happen, whatever didn’t happen in that football game. But at the same time, when you look at the defensive stats (from 2015), we led the league in turnovers as a defense. And that’s what the game boiled down to – creating more opportunities for your offense and getting the ball back. And I think they had four and we had two. They won the turnover battle and at the end of the day they won the football game. They scored on defense.”
The 23-year drought since the losing Super Bowl team returned the following season: “I know all about that. But one thing about our football team is we’re not getting caught up in that. We’re focused on the task at hand. We’re not getting complacent, thinking that we’re entitled that, ‘Hey, just because we made it last year that we’re going to make it back.’ We understand that we have to start over. There’s going to be a completely new team regardless of how many guys we brought back. We’re going to start over. We’re going to start fresh. And I think to a man that everyone has bought in to what coach Rivera coaches us and teaches us. We’ll be ready to go.”
His concern about the long-term effects of head injuries: “I’ve been fortunate to never have had a concussion that the doctor (diagnosed) as far as being dizzy or having any kind of side effects from any hard hits after a game. With all the research that’s come out, everybody knows that you’re going to go through some things. But I just hope and pray I’m not one of the CTE victims. I feel good right now. My head’s real good and I don’t really feel it’s going to be an issue for me moving forward. But who’s to say?”
Whether the NFL is doing enough on concussions and CTE: “I think with all the information that’s come out over the last year or so, that the league and the NFLPA are doing a good job of trying to work together right now to make sure that player safety is a premium and guys are not being put in positions where they can hinder themselves by going back into the game if they’ve had a head shot or they’re dealing with a concussion, where in the past we’d just shake it off and go back into the football game and be at a potential risk of something long-term. But right now I think they’re doing a good job of making sure guys come out of the game if they see anything. And I think having a neutral guy on the sideline definitely helps that out.”
Allowing his two sons (12 and 8) to play tackle football: “A lot of people hold back from it. But I’ve been around that (younger) age group and watched them play football, and there’s not a lot of head-on collisions where kids are actually taking big shots. I’m pretty comfortable with my son going out and competing. ... It’s important to teach kids the proper way to play the game.”
What he does during his sons’ games: “You know what? I always try to fight getting in the coaches’ way and trying to coach my kids up and tell kids what to do while they have coaches out there. But the coaches always welcome me to come in and share my input. I try to do it a little bit, but not too much to where I’m actually getting in the coaches’ way and interfering with their job.”
His football camp (July 23-24 at Hopewell High): “This is going to be my first time doing a camp where kids are actually paying for it because I’m partnering up with a different company. But if it was a Defending Dreams (Davis’ foundation) camp, everything we do with Defending Dreams is always free for kids. It’s going to be another opportunity to teach kids football.”
His approach to summer training at 33: “Being a person that’s been in this league as long as I’ve been, you understand how important making sure your body’s in the best shape it can be going into training camp. So I make sure I find time regardless if I’m here in Charlotte or if I’m out of town traveling or if I’m just spending time relaxing with my kids – I make sure I stay on top of my training because I know how important it is to my body.
Davis to host car show
Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis will host the second annual Ultimate Queen City Car and Bike Show on July 9 at the Park Expo and Conference Center. The event features the vehicles of a number of NFL players and benefits Davis’ foundation. More information at defendingdreams.org.