Super Bowl Champ Motivates Students

New England Patriots linebacker and two-time Super Bowl champion Don Davis spoke to Colgate audiences on three separate occasions on Sunday. Davis spoke at a University Church service at 11 a.m., delivered a speech in Brehmer Theater at 4 p.m. and led a dinner discussion with a group of male students in the Chapel garden level at 6:30 p.m. In all three events, Davis discussed the role of his Christian faith in his life both on and off the football field.Davis, a professional football player who has won two Super Bowls, emphasized that his road to the top was not easy. Davis was cut three times after college before finally spending his rookie season with the New Orleans Saints.After being cut by the Kansas City Chiefs, Davis reached a low point in his life and contemplated suicide. “The only way I got through this point in my life was by the grace of God,” Davis said. “I had done nothing to deserve getting picked up. I could have just been an average guy who once had a shot. But thanks to God, I’m where I am today.”After being given a second chance, Davis rededicated himself to football and is now in his tenth year in the league. However, Davis insisted that football no longer defines his life. “The two Super Bowls [won with the Patriots] were both great experiences, but they didn’t fill any void in my life,” Davis said. “You have to value yourself as a person beyond just what you do.”Davis sent a message of encouragement to his audience, asking them to live lives of dedication, character and morality. “Don’t trade future blessings for temporary pleasures,” he said. He elaborated on three “lines of defense” that everyone should develop in his life: self-control, character and humility. He compared these to the three levels of defense on the football field: defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs.Davis told a story about a practice player he knew when he was with the Patriots. The player had tried for five years to break in to the NFL before making the practice squad. He then practiced with the team for 18 weeks without suiting up for a single game. He was then put on a special teams unit, a sign that he was going to be activated for the Super Bowl. On the Sunday night of the week before Super Bowl XXXIX, the player went out, had a few too many drinks and brought a girl back into his room – a major offense, because only players are allowed on the team’s hotel floor. The player was caught with the girl and subsequently released and sent back to Boston. “He lost the ability to play in the biggest game there is, he lost a Super Bowl ring [and] he lost his job,” Davis said. “One bad choice can ruin a lifetime of achievement; one moment of indiscretion can destroy your whole life.”The dinner that evening was also successful. The students present, many of whom were also athletes, had an opportunity to discuss both religious and athletic topics with Davis in an informal setting. The discussion centered primarily on the expectations of manhood in today’s society and how to fulfill those expectations while still leading a moral and Christian life.Acting Protestant Chaplain Mark Mann, who helped bring Davis to Colgate, was pleased with Davis’s visit. “I thought he connected with a lot of students in a good way, especially with athletes,” Mann said. “He had some really strong messages about living a healthy, pure life in a time where that has become difficult. He has reached the pinnacle in some ways, and has a unique perspective about what really matters in life.”Keeping constant with his themes, Davis charged no honorarium, asking only that his travel expenses be paid. During his speech, Davis encouraged students to challenge themselves to reach the next level. “A true champion is the same whether he wins or loses,” he said. “Do you have the courage to be all that you want to be? Have the courage – go out and get it.”