/Saints’ Demario Davis Rags to riches and then some

Saints’ Demario Davis Rags to riches and then some

People should. Davis is the only NFL linebacker to have at least 100 tackles, five quarterback interceptions and 10 quarterback hits heading into the final weekend of the regular season. He is one of the most respected players in a league with the best defenses. Yet, you won’t see his name on the Pro Bowl rosters announced this week. Davis spoke Thursday by phone, saying that this has been the storyline in my life. It is true. Davis was a Brandon senior and wasn’t selected for the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game. Davis did not receive a single scholarship offer from the Southeastern Conference. He was a two star recruit. He chose Arkansas State over Southern Miss. It seems odd that he chose Arkansas State over Southern Miss. Two-star recruit? Is that possible? Davis laughs at Davis’s question. This is where the story gets really interesting. Davis stated, “Part of it was me.” Trouble? Davis stated that he stole the wallet of a child and was expelled from school. “I was expelled. I had to finish my second year in reform school.” Davis returned to Brandon as a senior, but was not in the good graces his coaches. He was a wide receiver for a team that mainly ran the ball. He became a linebacker as a senior and began to build his career. Then? Davis stated, in no uncertain terms, that he was arrested at Arkansas State during my freshman year and was sent to jail. His crime? Davis replied, “Shoplifting at Walmart.” It was the best thing that happened to him. He met Chuck McElroy, Campus Outreach’s Christian ministry, when Davis returned to Arkansas State. Davis knew that he had to make a change in his life. McElroy gave Davis a direction, and Davis followed it. Davis stated, “I gave my whole life to Christ.” Davis walks the same path as he walks. Davis met Sam Butler last spring when he moved to New Orleans. Butler was a young football player who had been paralyzed and shot during Mardi Gras. This past Christmas week, Davis showed up at Butler’s house with a gift, a new, handicapped-accessible van to make it easier for the young man to make it to his doctors appointments and rehab workouts. Davis stated, “They really needed it but couldn’t afford to buy it.” My wife and I joined the effort. We were given a lot by the car company. The Saints provided a matching grant. It brought a smile to his face. It was really, really important.” Brandon High football coach Tyler Peterson said that Davis has spoken and worked out with his football team during the past couple of seasons. Peterson stated, “Demario is a special man and the guys listen.” Davis said, “I put myself in their shoes.” I would have loved to hear from someone who has been there and done well. I have been in that locker-room. “I know how they feel.” This is not surprising given Hugh Freeze was the Arkansas State coach during Davis’s senior season. Freeze described Davis as a “special, special player” and a “special person.” He was everything you could want in a player, and a leader for us. He’s an absolute freak physically. Anyone who was with our team in those days will not be surprised at his success in the NFL. The Arkansas State team won 10 games and reached a bowl in a very long time. He was a major reason that the New York Jets selected Davis in the third round. He was a Jets player for four seasons and a Browns player for one. In 2017, he was an unrestricted, free agent. He was signed to a $34 million, three-year contract by the Saints. $16 million of it was guaranteed. Although the money is nice, Davis stated that the reason Davis signed with New Orleans was not the money. He said, “I wanted to be a contender.” “I wanted to travel to a place where I could win it all. New Orleans is the place. Drew Brees (Aaron Rodgers) and Tom Brady are the best quarterbacks in this league. Drew is my favorite of all the quarterbacks.” The Saints are currently 13-2 and have won home-field advantage in the playoffs. Davis stated, “We have great chemistry in this defense.” “We have come together and played well. Drew Brees is on the other end of the ball. The Saints will finish their regular season Sunday against Carolina in what has been a meaningless match. Brees will be resting. Davis isn’t sure what Davis’s role will be. He said, “I am preparing for this week the same way I always do.” Davis said, “I am preparing for play.” Does Davis believe that the Saints’ success and his obvious contributions will lead to more recognition for him personally? Davis stated, “Maybe, but we’ll find out.” “I will tell you this, I am going to keep that chip on mine no matter what. I won’t stop working until I am unanimously voted the best linebacker of the league. “That’s how I am.”