I believe, or don’t believe, in certain people. If I don’t believe in you, and you surprise or shock me by doing something right, or claim that you’re going to, I won’t be cynical. But I’ll be skeptical. I need to see it.
If I believe in you, and you make a mistake, I tend to see it as isolated, a misstep or a fluke. You did so many things right. This misstep or mistake is not you.
I believe in Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis. Davis, 35, announced that he would miss four games next season because he tested positive for a banned substance. In the video he released, Davis said he took an estrogen blocker, a substance he’s taken seven or eight years. He said he would never “cheat the game.”
I struggle to accept that Davis would cheat anything.
I’m biased because I’ve spent time around Davis. I’ve been in his house. Not the good one, but the old one. Which, I must say, was pretty good, too.
Some athletes are more than the uniform they wear and the team they represent. They dig in. They become entrenched in the city in which their team plays. Davis is such an athlete.
A little history: The Panthers selected Davis with the 14th pick in the 2005 draft. To put 2005 in perspective, 2005 was the year in which Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and North Korea promised to stop building nuclear weapons.
The Panthers didn’t know when they drafted Davis out of Georgia if he was a safety or a linebacker, and he had to learn to play safety. Sticking Davis at safety meant that when he did become a linebacker, he had a second new position to learn.
Middle linebacker Jon Beason knew exactly what he was on the field, and it showed. Davis was uncertain. When the Panthers finally decided he was a linebacker, they put Davis in position to know. There was a moment when Davis’ instincts finally caught up to his athleticism, and he was something to see.
Davis tore up his right knee three times. Nobody knew if he’d come back because nobody ever had. The Panthers didn’t know.
After a knee injury, the Defending Dreams Foundation, which Thomas and his wife, Kelley run, hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for women who lived in a shelter with their kids. Defending Dreams rented a downtown Charlotte restaurant and delivered the women and children.
Because of the knee, I figured Davis would be a spectator. His money was doing this. But he was going to serve those women, and he did. Whatever they wanted from the restaurant they received, and Davis brought it to their table. Davis limped heavily all evening. He smiled all evening, too. He looked as if he was the happiest man in the room, if not the city.
Does Davis’ work that night mean he wouldn’t cheat the game?
It means he’s an honorable man.
If somebody offers a differing opinion about Davis, I get it. He or she is as entitled to a differing perspective as I am to mine. Neither the media nor fans take a loyalty blood oath.
I know that the body of a guy drafted the same year Katrina hit needs all the help it can get. But I don’t believe Davis operates outside the rules to get it.
Why he took the estrogen blocker, and has been taking it, I have no idea.
Yet I struggle to believe the guy that joyously limped around the restaurant delivering to women and children plates of food cheats the game or any other thing.