For Thomas Davis, a roller-coaster career falls short of fairy-tale ending

Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis. Photo credit: Jon Strayhorn, Media Arts Collective

Professional sports are big business. David Tepper’s NFL record $2.2 billion purchase of the Carolina Panthers last year is proof of that. So when you have a disappointing season like the Panthers did in 2018, you expect changes. When certain personnel decisions are made, it can shake a fanbase.

Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis informed fans via Twitter on Friday that the team won’t resign him next season. They want to get younger and faster at the position. Although Davis is out after 14 seasons, he doesn’t plan to retire.

TD is one of the greatest Panther players of all time. As leader of the defense, he made three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. He’s the first player in NFL history to come back from three season-ending ACL injuries. Somehow he managed to play in Super Bowl 50 in a cast to protect his arm which he broke two weeks earlier. But his impact off the field has been just as impressive. In 2014, he was awarded NFL Man of the Year for his efforts through his nonprofit, Defending Dreams Foundation, and his involvement in the Panthers’ community initiatives.

NBA star and Charlotte native, Steph Curry, weighed in when he learned Davis would no longer be on the team.

It’s rare to see players start and end their career on a single team, so I root for those who are able to achieve it, especially when they meant so much to a team and a community over the years. It’s still odd to see Tony Parker in a Charlotte Hornets jersey after 17 seasons and four championships with the San Antonio Spurs. I believe players deserve to retire on their own terms if they’re playing at a high level. Davis says he feels like he can still contribute, so if he gets a shot at playing against Carolina before he calls it a career, I’m sure the Panthers hope he doesn’t have a revenge game like Steve Smith did after they cut him in 2013 after 13 seasons.

The Panthers stuck by Davis through the rough times and was rewarded. In 2012, instead of cutting Davis following his multiple knee injuries, they restructured his contract. Within three years, he was NFL Man of the Year and a First-Team All-Pro linebacker. You hoped they would have stuck with him one more time, but then again, professional sports are big business.


Kallan Louis is a writer and consultant for qcitymetro.com. He does a lot, but never feels like he’s doing enough. His life can be described as a Venn Diagram: News media, Black culture and sports. He’s always on TV, but rarely seen.

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