“So they can see if the player is ready for that, give him some money and see if he has the same work ethic, comes in here every day and wants to work,” Davis said.
On the surface, his suspension hasn’t exactly amounted to the doghouse. After the deal he signed in March, he was actually named the team’s 2011 offensive player of the year for just 12 games in which he caught 59 passes for 796 yards and was No. 3 statistically among NFC tight ends before his season ended.
But on and off the field is constantly a proving ground now. Davis understands his biggest detractors “want me to be a robot,” but he refuses to give up the healthy parts of his social life.
He says he’s recommitted himself spiritually, naming Pastor Chad Carlton at the Temple of Healing Waters Church of God in Christ in Dulles as someone who’s “helped me get my mind right,” he said. “I needed that guidance.”
Especially after those humbling moments before the Redskins-Jets game last year — when an opposing player, he said, informed him that would be his last game after the positive test.
“That sucked, finding out before the game, knowing that was it,” he said.
Worse was standing up in front of his teammates with Williams afterward, admitting his error in judgment. “We basically apologized for leading them astray like that and not really giving them an opportunity to have a chance to win with us on the team for four games. We just let them know we respect them and apologized to them. If they accept it or don’t accept it, I understand. Most of them did.”
You asked him if he went cold turkey after that, stopped using altogether.
“Yeah,” Fred said. “You kinda just say you messed up. Now learn from this mistake. You know this feeling and never want to know this feeling again. At least if you don’t play, let it be because of some other reason, if you’re injured or something like that. Not because you disobeyed the rules.”
A perfect season, Davis said when asked, would end with a playoff berth, 800 to 1,000 yards receiving for himself and “I would score the winning touchdown so we go to the Super Bowl or something like that.”
Your hope for Davis is a modest goal to start with. For example, giving no one any reason to play “gotcha” at an offseason party and e-mailing that photo to the media. After that, the hope is Fred Davis understands how good he can be with Robert Griffin III at quarterback and his body and mind immersed in the game.
“The first two years I came in and didn’t get a lot of playing time and then [Cooley] got hurt and I got the opportunity,” he said. “I put up some good numbers and people said ‘Oh, he can play at least.’ I had the opportunity to almost play a full season except for the last few games. Now I get the opportunity to start from the beginning.”
For Mike Wise’s previous columns,
go to washingtonpost.com/wise.