To see Part One of our interview with Don Davis, click here.
Don Davis – After my first year everything’s great. I finally make a little bit of money. I’m partying – and that kind of thing – and I come to the point where it’s the off season and we have all this time and I’m feeling kind of empty. The parties are over and it’s like, “What am I going to do now?” So, I ended up getting married.
Kim Anthony – What? (Not a clever or well-thought-out question, but I was shocked!)
DD – Some of these other guys (were) married and you’ve got to have somebody to come home to and all that kind of stuff. That’s what I’m missing. So I figured my college girlfriend had still been around, so she would be the best (one to marry).
We get married right before the next season and it was a good season. I was kind of like, yeah, this is what you’re supposed to be doing. I’m married but I’m really living a single man’s life. But I’ve got somebody at home and it fills that void – that time when you’re just sitting there and it’s just you and your thoughts. I think that’s what a lot of athletes struggle with – When there’s no party, and there’s no family around and you’re just sitting in your house or apartment and you’re all alone. You’re just left with you, God and your thoughts.
I think that’s when the Lord really gets our attention. But often time guys ignore that voice or that void because they just don’t know. That was me.
KA – So do you believe that getting married to keep from being lonely is a common practice in the league?
DD – I do. I think most of the athletes have that dead time, and they have a girl that’s there – or “my baby momma” – and they just end up (saying), “Alright, we’re just going to go ahead and get married.”
KA – So then when the NFL career is over and they also realize that this woman is not “the one”…
DD – It’s easy to go through the whole season. You’re focused on football. Your family is at home. Then all of a sudden it’s the off-season and you want to travel or do golf tournaments and hang out with the boys. There’s a little bit more tension because you have more time in the home. But you don’t really identify it and work at it with your spouse. That continues over the years and all of a sudden, you’re done (playing football).
You have to deal with (the fact) that you’re no longer known, you’re no longer making a lot of money, and if you haven’t prepared and don’t know what you’re going to do with your life, you’ve got that void of “what am I going to do?” You have identity (issues) and the pressure from “momma” (wife) at home. All these things start mounting and it all boils down to: You never knew her or had (good) communication with this person you’ve been living with for these years (you were) in the NFL.
KA – What was it like in your own marriage?
DD – We’d been married through the season, but now it’s the off-season and I want some “me time.” I’m like, “Wait! Hold on. I can’t go to Vegas and hang out all night? What? Wait. You want to go (with me)? Hmm. I don’t know if I’m good with this arrangement.”
So it was an awful off-season. We knew we were going to end up in divorce court. We never really reached out and didn’t get any resources (to help our marriage) and by week three of that third season we were pretty much done. She moved back to Kansas, where we were from and I just lived out the rest of that year like a single man.
KA – How long were you married?
DD – I was married two full years.
During his third year in the league, Davis was getting a divorce, living the single life and felt virtually unscathed. Suddenly in week 10, he gets cut by the New Orleans Saints. As the special teams captain, this move took him by surprise.
DD – I wasn’t playing too well because I was focused too much on off-field stuff. I’m released, going through a divorce…it totally caught me off guard. So here I am again: Alone in a room with just me, my thoughts, and the Lord.
KA – What marked the turning point in your life?
My turning point was two days later. I’m back in Kansas, sitting in a room by myself and I get a call from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They tell me they want to bring me in. I fly there and I sign on a Friday, play that Sunday and I’m introduced to the great Tony Dungy.
I spent five years there in Tampa getting acclimated to a new winning community and atmosphere; to a new coaching staff that doesn’t cuss, demean and talk bad to players. Because of that … I felt like, “I’m going to do better. I’m going to get involved.” There are some faithful men, Derrick Brooks and Shelton Quarrels – we were going to hold each other accountable. We’re doing Bible studies, but I’m still having that tug. I have that spiritual side and then I have that worldly side that’s still there. So I’m kind of doing both, like I did in college – one foot in the world, one foot in the church.
One day, the (Tampa Bay Bucs) chaplain, Doug Gilcrease, comes to me and says, “Donnie, if you were to die today, where would you spend eternity?” I’m like, “Man, you must be crazy! I’m a Baptist! I’ll slap you for saying that…for even asking me that question. I grew up in the church. Why would you even ask me a question like that?” (Laughing)
Then he takes me to the Word, Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” And he looks at me and says, “Are you doing the will of God?” It was like my whole life flashed back before me – all the things that I had done or tried to do. It was right then and there that I gave my life to the Lord. I was like, “I’m done being this other guy. I’m all in!”
MORE WITH DON DAVIS
Coming up in Part 3 of my interview with Don Davis (@RealDonDavis): “I know that man is not meant to be alone and neither am I.” Davis gives marriage another try. We’ll also see more of the triumphs and challenges of his spiritual walk: “If St. Louis was the church in Israel, New England was Sodom and Gomorrah.”
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Is there a particular pro athlete you’d like me to interview about his faith? How has this story impacted you? To submit suggestions and comments, please contact me through www.KimAnthony.net or follow me on Twitter @RealKimAnthony. I’d love to hear from you!
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