Redskins tight end Vernon Davis urged Maryland Terrapins football players to “keep doing the best you can,” “stay together” and play with the memory of late teammate Jordan McNair “in your heart” in a letter to the team published in the Players' Tribune on Thursday.
Four days after Maryland lost to Temple in College Park, a game the Terps were favored to win by two touchdowns, and with a report investigating an allegedly abusive climate within the Terrapin program soon to be released, Davis wrote to players that the coming weeks are “going to make or break your entire season.”
Davis attended Maryland from 2003 to 2005, where he was an all-American tight end. He told The Washington Post that The Players' Tribune approached him to write an essay on McNair’s death.
“I’m removed from it but it’s still my school,” he told The Post on Thursday. “It’s tough to see the situation they are in. Like anything else, everything works itself out for the good. They might be in a tough situation now but later on everything will work out in their favor.
“You have to go through things, right? Sometimes you have to go through so much before you start winning games and everything turns out in your favor. It’s one of those things, it’s a test, you have to see who can stand, stand strong in the midst of a storm.”
After a fast start to the season — an upset win over Texas at FedEx Field, then a 31-point trouncing of Bowling Green — the Terrapins will likely be underdogs in eight of the season’s nine remaining games. They are probable favorites against Rutgers on Oct. 13, but also face No. 19 Michigan, No. 24 Michigan State, No. 4 Ohio State and No. 10 Penn State.
The loss to Temple makes Maryland’s road to bowl eligibility exceedingly difficult.
“You didn’t think everything was going to be easy just because you beat Texas, did you?” Davis wrote. “You realized there’d be more adversity. So you knew this moment would come.
"What matters now is how you respond. [ . . .]
“You’ve all already shown anyone paying attention the strength and heart and will of this team. So I have no doubt that you’re going to bounce back and finish the season strong. And as you’re going about that journey, you all — each and every one of you — need to know that it’s not just me who is proud of you.”
McNair, a redshirt sophomore offensive lineman, collapsed during a spring conditioning practice May 29 while suffering from heat stroke and died two weeks later. An ESPN investigation into his death detailed a culture of intimidation within the football team in which coaches used conditioning drills and nutrition to abuse athletes.
The university report investigating the cause of McNair’s death is set to be released Friday afternoon. Terps' Coach DJ Durkin has been on administrative leave since August.
Maryland President Wallace Loh has said the school takes “moral and legal responsibility” for McNair’s death.
Staff writer Les Carpenter contributed to this report.