Thomas Davis was a star on the field, but he was a bigger star among Panther Fans. After successfully returning from three ACL injuries to become a leader in the locker room and a dominant force on the field, the Panthers informed Thomas Davis that they their 2019 plan didn’t include the aging linebacker. Davis broke the news in a heart-felt Twitter video where he thanked the Panthers organization and lauded Panther fans for their support throughout his 14-year career in Carolina. He thanked Carolina fans for their support throughout his time with the team, noting that Carolina would always his home, but also emphatically stating he wasn’t retiring. Davis believes he has “way too much football in me to walk way right now, so I want to keep playing. I plan to keep playing.” Davis pleaded to fans to understand that he wanted to return to Carolina and that he had never wanted to end his career with another team, but that he also that his love of playing the game and his belief that he still could remained a driving factor.
This morning I’ve listened and seen Panthers fans debate the decision to not re-sign Thomas Davis. He’s been an important part in the identity of our team and a great conduit for the fans to connect with that identity. It’s emotional for so many people who have found inspiration in the Keep Pounding motto and in Thomas Davis’s real-life application of that model. I, however, believe this move was done at the right time and in the right way. I’m certain Davis is disappointed he won’t be with the team and just as certain we will miss having him as a leader and spokesman for the team we support. Davis wasn’t cut or released by the Panthers. We didn’t have to watch him and the staff try to navigate the difficult process of finding a role for an aging legend who just doesn’t want to hang them up. It’s something that the staff under Ron Rivera hasn’t shown a propensity in doing successfully either. If Davis were re-signed to a one-year deal with the agreement he would play a smaller role on the defense, I think he would still be just good enough that his understanding of the game and situational experience would make it difficult to start someone over him. It’s been that way for the last two years as Shaq Thompson has never played more than 45% of the defensive snaps. Thomas Davis and the Panthers parted ways in the cleanest way possible—on top. So while the debate about whether this was a good move, the right move, or about the timing rages, I’m opting to celebrate Thomas Davis’s career by watching these highlight videos!
By Tony Dunn
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