SEATTLE — On a chilly Saturday morning former Buffalo Bills linebacker Andra Davis took his family to Winter Park, a snow resort in Colorado, for a little tubing fun. At 33-years-old Davis admitted he’s not the Skiing or Snowboarding type, but he’ll join his kids tubing. “It was pretty cold up there so I stuck it out for about two hours tubing with the kids,” Davis said “At this stage of my career I can’t afford to risk a major injury so I stay away from that [skiing and snowboarding].”
After suffering a torn shoulder in his first game with the Buffalo Bills in 2010 Davis now feels the best he’s ever felt in his ten year career. “I feel really, really good and truly [I'm] in the best shape of my career.” Reason being? A new training regiment that Davis started this offseason which includes boxing and yoga twice a week.
“I started training with [boxer] DaVarryl Williamson which has helped me stay in great shape. Every Tuesday and Thursday I do yoga with my wife which relaxes me and balances out my workout.”
While instability and hardship hit Davis hard on the field during his tenure in Buffalo he stayed true to himself with the help of his wife and his faith. In March 2010 Davis signed a two-year contract worth $4.4 million after being released by the Denver Broncos.
Out to prove to the Broncos that they made a mistake by releasing him Davis was willing to do anything Chan Gailey and George Edwards asked him to do. However things wouldn’t go quite as planned when he sustained a shoulder injury in week one against Miami. He knew he injured his shoulder but continued to play through the pain until he couldn’t take it.
“I remember it [the Miami game] specifically I knew my shoulder was torn right away but I felt like I needed to gut it out and help the team. I wound up playing the next four to five games before I had to admit to myself that me playing was hurting the team more than it was helping.”
Before then Davis hadn’t had a major injury in his career aside from one or two minor nagging one-week injuries. “It was very frustrating for me because until then I hadn’t had a prolonged injury that forced me to miss more than a week or two. I’ve had two concussions and a couple other nagging injuries but none that put me out for an extended period of time.”
While 2010 was a struggle due directly to his injury, his second season in Buffalo would be even worse. Fully recovered from his shoulder Davis was expecting to have a strong season as a starter. That expectation never came to fruition and Davis was benched for the first time in his career in favor of rookie Kevin Sheppard.
“Honestly, it was very VERY hard to go through. I’m not sugar coding it. Mentally it was the toughest thing I’ve had to deal with in my life. After putting in the effort to get back to full strength after last season it was hard to cope with because I knew I could still play this game.”
Davis’ wife of ten years coming up in May was the one that listened to him during that period. “Like I said she heard about it more than anyone. The late nites, the pillow talk, she heard me complaining about it. Davis’ religious faith was also a key component in keeping his head on his shoulders.
“Andre Davis hasn’t done anything. Everything I have is blessed and god given talent. Sometimes things happen that you might not like but it just means that’s he’s got something better planned for you.”
Coming into the league Davis knew he wasn’t the fastest guy on the team running a 4.77 40 at the 2002 NFL combine. But he did know that he was the most technically smart player and when it came to practicing and games he’d be able to beat anyone to the tackle because he knew the best angle to take.
After missing some tackles and assignments in their week six game against New York Chan Gailey benched the ten year veteran. Gailey said the reason was that the organization felt that Sheppard gave them a better chance to win than he would.
Anytime a veteran hears those words it hits at the core and for Davis it wasn’t what he wanted to hear and he certainly didn’t agree with. However, being the man he is Davis, he accepted the role and had a man-to-man talk with Sheppard. In that conversation Davis offered his unconditional support and the relationship felt like “He[Sheppard] was my younger brother.”
“From that point on I still came in every day with a smile on my face and continued to work as hard as I always had. I had man-to-man talk with Sheppard and told him that it was not personal and that I was there for him and wanting him to succeed.”
While some veterans in that situation would make it into a media circus that’s not the way Davis works. He didn’t agree with the decision but he didn’t feel disrespected in any way by general manager Buddy Nix or head coach Chan Gailey.
“They did what they thought was best for the organization and they came to me as a man and they could have played mind games and beat around the bush bush but they didn’t. He came directly to me, we [Chan Gailey] talked man-to-man and while I didn’t agree with the decision I respected it. ”
Set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 13th knows he’s got a lot left in the tank but isn’t limiting his options. One thing that has alluded him in his career has been the playoffs, and with it a Super Bowl ring. “There’s 32 teams in this league and with Twitter and Facebook along with the media and I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes and limit myself by saying I want to play for a certain team.”
Whoever Davis signs with “they’ll be getting a seasoned veteran who knows the in and outs of every system and a veteran who’s truly hungry to win. At this point in my career, and overall, it’s never been about getting the biggest contract it’s about playing for the love of the game and that’s what I’m about.”
A true blessed, god loving individual and family man Andra Davis is both physically and mentally prepared for any situation at any time.
“It’s all God!”