Vontae Davis’s decision to retire smack dab in the middle of the Buffalo Bills' game Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers didn’t sit well with some of his teammates. Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander called the move “completely disrespectful,” and fellow safety Rafael Bush said it caused him to lose “respect for him as a man.”
Davis defended himself in an NFL-issued statement released after Sunday’s game and isn’t backing down after a few days have passed, telling the Undefeated’s Domonique Foxworth that “leaving was therapeutic, bro.”
“I left everything the league wanted me to be, playing for my teammates while injured, the gladiator mentality, it all just popped,” Davis, a veteran of nine full NFL seasons before his abbreviated 2018 campaign, told Foxworth. “And when it popped, I just wanted to leave it all behind. So that’s why I don’t care what people say. That experience was personal and not meant for anyone else to understand. It was me cold turkey leaving behind an identity that I carried with me for so long.”
Davis recounted to Foxworth his day on Sunday, saying he “felt normal” as he went through his normal pregame routine: the hotel stay the night before, the pregame meal and game-planning, his recitation of Psalm 23. But things abruptly changed once the game started.
“I didn’t feel right, I didn’t feel like myself,” he said. Deciding that he didn’t “belong on the field anymore,” he told Bills defensive backs coach John Butler that he was “done” just before halftime and sat on the bench. According to published reports, he then changed into street clothes and left the stadium.
Davis repeated his assertion that he didn’t intend to let down his teammates, and it sounds as if he’s not having second thoughts about his decision.
“The crazy thing is that people automatically assumed that something was wrong with me mentally,” he said. “I feel great. I haven’t felt like this in … well, in my whole life.”
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