By Cindy Davis//@XO_CindyDavis
What an interesting week it has been for Panther players and fans.
First, there was news that linebacker Shaq Thompson is getting sued for a 2016 car accident he was involved in. Then, there was panic surrounding the news that quarterback Cam Newton got in another car accident and somehow collided with a dump truck (Thankfully, he is fine).
But perhaps the most devastating news of all, came two days ago: that LB Thomas Davis will serve a 4 game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy performance-enhancing substances.
It didn’t take long when the news broke for Davis to post a heartfelt and apologetic video on Twitter addressing Panther fans and the situation. In light of this recent news, I wanted to take an opportunity to reflect on the amazing player that Davis has always been, on and off the field for Charlotte and surrounding communities.
Thomas Davis comes on to the field on gameday with such a fire and passion, and it is easy to see the love he has for this team and the fans. He can often be seen on the field motivating his teammates by giving inspiring speeches and improving morale.
Because of his great leadership skills and presence in the Panther’s locker room, it is not surprising that TD is such a hit among kids too. He and his wife Kelly Davis started the Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation in 2008, which helps more than 2,000 children and their families every year.
The mission of the foundation is: Educate. Empower. Defend. Through their foundation, Thomas Davis and his family are able to provide school supplies to children in need, and they also select two seniors who have participated in his program to award college scholarships to. Additionally, he orchestrates an annual Thanksgiving meal for a women’s shelter and provides Christmas presents for children who may not get to experience the joy of Christmas otherwise.
In 2013, TD also helped construct a playground in his hometown of Shellman, Georgia. This was the first and only playground in his hometown. TD also hosts a free annual football camp for underprivileged kids interested in learning the ins and outs of football. All of these contributions to the community are undoubtedly why he was selected as the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2014, out of 32 nominees and three finalists. His dedication to helping children and families in need shows that he is dedicated to his cause as much as he is dedicated to his play on the field.
Though this recent news of his supplement containing an estrogen blocker comes as a shock and disappointment to many, it didn’t take long before teammates and other players from around the league showed support for Thomas Davis on Twitter.
Many of the shout-outs included that they know he is not a cheater, or that he is the “last player to ever cheat this game.” Interestingly, Davis also announced that this may not be his last year playing for the Panthers anymore, due to this suspension.
How can you not respect this guy as a football player honestly? Ignore the rivalry I respect the heck out of you Thomas Davis?
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcans) April 6, 2018
Thomas Davis haters need to holla at me after they’ve stuffed book bags for hundreds of underprivileged kids and fed hundreds of families thanksgiving meals. I’ll wait.
— SalesMan (@95KeepPounding) April 7, 2018
I don’t know many players who have come back from three ACL tears on the same knee and who would have played through a SuperBowl with a broken arm like Davis did. To me, this further shows the love he has for this game, and his off the field contributions show that he is committed to using his position to further the lives of underprivileged families in any way he can.
In his absence, we will have to count on a linebacker duo of Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson to help hold the defense down. I have faith in them just as I have faith in Thomas Davis. I strongly believe that being a spectator for the first four games will not only give him a fresh perspective on the team, but it will also allow him to come back with that intensity and a renewed passion for the game, in what could be his last season.
Talk Panthers with Cindy on Twitter @XO_CindyDavis