Vontae Davis: Walking Away From NFL Was Best Decision Of My Life
During week two of the NFL season last year Vontae Davis went to the locker at halftime of an NFL game, took off his uniform and pads, and walked away from the NFL. One year later, he says it was the best decision of his life.
Davis stated in an interview with ESPN’s Brendan Meyer this week that during a tackle in the first half against the Los Angeles Rams, he felt that something was “off” mentally. When he got to the sidelines, he realized he was “done.”
“Most athletes who come to this realization have their ‘aha’ moment somewhere in private, but Davis’ was happening right there on the sideline,” Meyer wrote. “He felt scared and vulnerable, and he wasn’t sure what to do — all he knew was that he couldn’t return to the field. He needed to get away.”
Davis did not walk away due to failure on the field, or failure to get to the field. He’s a two time Pro Bowler with 396 tackles. But with the physicality of the sport, if he wasn’t mentally there, it could have been dangerous for him to continue.
Davis revealed to Meyer that his first phone call immediately after putting on his street clothes was to his brother, two-time Pro Bowler Vernon Davis, tight end for the Washington Redskins. Vernon thought he was joking. His wife had a different reaction. When got home he told her, “I feel free like a bird.” then they drank tequila together to celebrate, according to Meyer.
Davis has stayed in shape since retiring. But do not expect him to come back to football. He has since gone into business and is opening a wellness center.
He also revealed in the interview that people questioned his mental health, not because he retired, but because of how he did it. “Most people, when I did what I did, they thought I was literally going insane or something,” Davis said. “But I was actually fine. I was totally fine. And I’m totally fine today.”
Davis’ initial statement after retiring claimed that he could no longer play at the standard that he had set for himself and that he meant no disrespect to his teammates and coaches.
— NFL (@NFL) September 16, 2018
He was on his first year with the Bills, playing only his second game with the team. A year ago, his wife had stated that his family did not want him to play in Buffalo anyway due to the reputation the organization had; that it was not good. Davis stated he wanted to play there because of some of the players he would be playing with.
For the most part, his new teammates did not take it well. Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander stated, “Never have seen it ever. Pop Warner, high school, college, pros. Never heard of it. Never seen it.” Alexander continued, “And it’s just completely disrespectful to his teammates. … He didn’t say nothing to nobody. … I found out going into the second half of the game. They said he’s not coming out, he retired. That’s it.”
Davis and his wife enjoy his retirement from football in Florida.