Carolina Panthers

Panthers’ Thomas Davis ‘like a fine wine,’ shuts down retirement rumors

Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis (center) told reporters Thursday that he has no plans to retire after this season.
Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis (center) told reporters Thursday that he has no plans to retire after this season. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

A few weeks ago, at a holiday charity event, Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis fielded his toughest question yet – and it wasn’t from a media member.

No, it came from his 6-year-old daughter, who wanted to know why her father wasn’t home more often.

It sparked speculation about whether Davis, 33, would consider retirement after this season.

He is not planning to retire, he confirmed to reporters Thursday afternoon.

“I’m still under contract. And my plan is to finish out my contractual obligations,” he said. Davis signed a contract through 2017 before this season.

“Not 89 percent like Smitty,” he added, referencing former longtime Panthers receiver (currently with Baltimore) Steve Smith, and his announcement this week that he is “89 percent sure” that he will retire at the end of the season .

I think, unfortunately, Father Time will eventually catch up, but with TD, he continues to defy time and defy age. You know I think he gets better and better with age. He’s like fine wine!

Panthers safety Kurt Coleman

Davis gets annoyed by the retirement questions, but understands where they come from.

“It’s definitely one of those things when you hit 12 years and you’ve been playing this game for that long, and I’m 33 years old. People start to wonder,” he said. “They start to question. But I still have a passion for this game. I still have a desire. And I’m just going to leave it at that.”

Davis did have to explain his situation to his daughter.

“It was a tough question,” he said. “You know, I simply explained to her that in order for her to continue to eat, Daddy has to work.”

He certainly hasn’t shown signs of slowing down, though he’s nearing the end of his 11th season. Davis leads the Panthers with 104 tackles (33 assisted ) and 2 1/2 sacks. He is four tackles shy of 700 for his career, and was selected to the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive year.

“I’ll tell you what, Thomas is one of those guys who you want them to play forever because of not only the player that he is, but the person,” said safety Kurt Coleman, who was with Davis when his daughter asked the question. “You love having him around in the locker room. He’s great for the community of Charlotte. And I don’t think, even when he stops playing, that he’s going to stop his foundation.

“I think, unfortunately, Father Time will eventually catch up, but with TD, he continues to defy time and defy age. You know I think he gets better and better with age. He’s like fine wine!”

Davis’ presence has been especially crucial this year, during a less-than-average Panthers season and a position group in flux after middle linebacker Luke Kuechly sustained a concussion and missed three weeks while in the protocol. Kuechly also will have missed the team’s final three games because of concern for his long-term health.

“Thomas is kind of that heart and soul, to a degree, he’s kind of that comforting person – I don’t know if ‘comforting’ is a good word for Thomas – but he’s been able to keep them together,” coach Ron Rivera said. “He really has.”

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071, @jourdanrodrigue

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