Thomas Davis to Make NFL History?
Most NFL fans know about Jon Beason’s injury last year, which proved a major blow to Carolina’s defense. Ultimately the Panthers finished with a miserable 27th-ranked overall defense last year. Jon Beason, who plays MLB for the Carolina Panthers, is an all-pro linebacker who is an all-around great football player. But do you know about Thomas Davis, his line-backing partner? The Thomas Davis that the Panthers drafted 14th overall in the 2005 NFL Draft? The Thomas Davis who was not highly recruited and only received one Division-1 scholarship? He could be a reason for many athletes worldwide to feel inspiration, and to never give up, when the injury bug strikes.
Thomas was born in Shellman, Georgia and attended Randolph-Clay high school which had a total school population of 471. Due to this, as I mentioned above, he was not highly recruited out of high school as the small size of his school made his chances for exposure very minimal. After accepting the single Division 1 athletic scholarship he received, Davis attended the University of Georgia where he played for the Bulldogs from 2002-2004. In his final season, he was a consensus first-team All-American.
Drafted as a safety as the 14th overall pick in the first round of the 2005 draft, Carolina decided to convert him to linebacker in his rookie season. And in his first year, he recorded 38 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Also, a year later, he improved on his tackling mark by setting his new career high at 88. 2008 was his career year though, where Davis recorded 113 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and he also forced 2 fumbles, all the while starting all 16 games for the second year in a row. But this is not where the story was made; the story begins in 2009.
Playing at a Pro Bowl level going into the 2009 season, the injury bug decided to strike Davis seven games into the year. He suffered an ACL tear and this caused him to be placed on the season-ending injury reserve. Going into 2010, Thomas knew that he had to be careful not to hurt himself again and watch what he did. Well unfortunately, the injury bug struck once again, as Davis tore his ACL again, and he would be placed on the IR . Two back-to-back injury-ridden seasons do not help one’s self-confidence. Most would give up and deem themselves unable to participate in strenuous physical activity. But Davis kept fighting back, and last year, he found himself ready to come back and play again. But for the third time in as many years, the former Bulldog once again tore his ACL and rode on the IR, an all-too-familiar circumstance.
At this point, I believe that 99.9% of football players would think to themselves that football wasn’t their thing and would walk away from the game. But Thomas Davis said “no”, he was not going to let three injuries stop him from living out his dreams. He dreamed of playing football, and now that he was so close, he knew what he had to do to stay there.
Fast forward to the present, and we have Thomas Davis who has received a clean bill of health and is ready to participate in Carolina’s upcoming training camp. According to Davis, he’s not going to take it easy:
“There won’t be no holding back then. I want to make sure I’m doing everything in my power to make sure I’m as healthy as possible and ready to go.”
Unfortunately, two things are working against him. One, if Thomas is able to make a comeback, it would be the first time an NFL athlete has ever come back to play after three ACL tears. Secondly, football is a business and Carolina can ill-afford to wait for Thomas to heal before going out and finding another linebacker to take his place. Not only will Thomas have to overcome the injury bug, but he will also need to win his starting position back on Carolina’s front seven. This will make for a good training camp and preseason battle.
…and that is the last word.
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