San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis has garnered positive attention as of late for his role as an honorary captain of the U.S. men’s curling team in Sochi, Russia. But on Feb. 17, Davis found himself in the news for a entirely different reason.
Appearing on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” radio show, Davis said that “Richie Incognito is a great guy. I know him really well.” Why would he choose to lend this opinion just days after the Wells Report revealed the egregious details of Incognito’s racial epithets, homophobic slurs and general bullying? It’s a “no-win” situation for Davis, and while he may very well be friendly with Incognito there are ways to support Incognito in a more sensitive manner.
The subject was initially raised on the popular radio show when Davis was asked if Jonathan Martin would be welcomed into the 49ers locker room. This isn’t the first time Martin’s name has been mentioned as a potential free agency target for the Niners, and frankly the team could use some depth at tackle. But Davis wasn’t enthusiastic about that idea and didn’t directly answer the question, saying only that he had nothing negative to say about Martin.
Is Davis’ perception of the situation different than the American public’s? From where I’m standing, I see a player who ruthlessly bullied a fellow teammate to the point that he needed to check himself into a psych ward. Is this the right time to casually back him on a nationally syndicated radio show?
From a pure football perspective, Incognito is an aging 30-year-old player with limited upside who’ll require a healthy veteran’s salary. Martin, on the other hand, is just 24-years-old, and while he hasn’t played great in his first two NFL seasons, the talent that had him predicted as a first-round draft pick in 2012 is there for a team to develop.
There’s absolutely no reason for Davis to be cavalier on the subject of Incognito, regardless of their personal ties. There are too many factors at play, and aligning himself with someone like Incognito can do nothing but harm to his image. Davis has come so far since being kicked off the field for poor attitude by former coach Mike Singletary, and he has to be more careful with how he phrases comments regarding extremely sensitive subjects.