Bills' Vontae Davis Says He Realized 'Football Is Not for Me' Before Retiring During Halftime
Vontae Davis knew that his team would not be amused when he retired at halftime of a Buffalo Bills game.
The former cornerback, 30, told ESPN’s The Undefeated that when the team chaplain and player development director talked to him about his sudden decision, “I didn’t expect them to understand.”
“Leaving was therapeutic,” he explained. “I left everything the league wanted me to be, playing for my teammates while injured, the gladiator mentality, it all just popped. And when it popped, I just wanted to leave it all behind … That experience was personal and not meant for anyone else to understand.”
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On Sunday, Davis ended his career after 10 seasons right in the middle of a game against the Los Angeles Chargers — which the Bills ultimately lost. He put on his street clothes and later left the stadium, according to Time.
Davis’ Sunday started ordinarily — he listened to music, did drills and recited a psalm. But when he began to play during the game, “I didn’t feel right,” he told The Undefeated. “I didn’t feel like myself.”
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On the bench, he had a revelation: “Football is not for me,” he explained. “In that moment, my intuition was telling me I don’t belong on that field anymore.”
His wife took the news in stride, according to The Undefeated. When Davis texted her, “Babe I’m done. I’m retiring,” she answered, “Ok, want me to meet you at the house.”
“The crazy thing is that people automatically assumed that something was wrong with me mentally,” Davis commented. He said that such an accusation could not be further from the truth: “I feel great. I haven’t felt like this in … well, in my whole life.”
The NFL tweeted out a statement from Davis on Sunday. “This isn’t how I pictured retiring from the NFL,” he said in the statement. “But today on the field, reality hit me and hard: I shouldn’t be out there anymore.”
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“I meant no disrespect to my teammates and coaches,” the statement continued. “But I hold myself to a standard. Mentally, I always expect myself to play at a high level. But physically, I know today that isn’t possible, and I had an honest moment with myself.”
Davis’ brother, Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis, wrote on Instagram, “I probably love my brother more than I love myself. It’s hard to see him retire, as I thought he would be in this league longer than me. I feel like I retired because we’re so close and I look at him as he’s my son even though he’s my younger brother.”
He added, “Proud of the career you have had @vontaedavis. Your career isn’t over… it’s just getting started. Love you bro.”
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On Monday, Bills coach Sean McDermott said that Davis’ retirement “is not going to become a distraction for us,” ESPN reported.
“I got a lot of respect for Vontae,” he noted, according to ESPN. “He’s a good person. I certainly appreciate the way he worked when he was in here, but we’re moving forward as a football team. … You develop some personal relationships with these young men. You always want the best for them. It’s not a deal where we wish him anything but the best. We wish him the best. He’s had a heckuva career.”
Davis played for the Indianapolis Colts starting in 2012 and was the Miami Dolphins’ first-round pick in the 2009 NFL draft, according to Sports Illustrated. He signed with the Bills in the offseason. Experts told Yahoo Sports that the Bills will likely not have to pay the majority of Davis his one-year, $5 million contract.
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