So excuse the Carolina Panthers’ all-pro linebacker if he snickers at the notion that 12 screws and a plate in his broken right forearm will keep him out of the biggest game of his career.
“I’m still looking forward to playing on Super Bowl Sunday,” he said with a wide, knowing grin.
Davis has overcome too much and at 32 has come too far to even think about missing this one.
He is the first known NFL player to battle back and play after tearing the same ACL three times. It’s even more remarkable considering he has returned to play at an all-pro level after his third surgery in 2011.
Now, in a cruel piece of irony, the man who has waited 11 seasons to play in the Super Bowl breaks his arm in the NFC championship game, giving him only two weeks to recover.
The injury came in the second quarter of a 49-15 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
“I was devastated for him at the time,” Carolina defensive tackle Dwan Edwards said. “The guy has been through a lot and is the heart and soul of our team. He’s our emotional leader, our playmaker on the field.”
Given what Davis has been through, teammates aren’t surprised that he intends to face the Broncos next Sunday in Santa Clara, California.
“Knowing Thomas, he is used to overcoming obstacles,” safety Tre Boston said. “Hey, give me 12 screws and a plate in my arm and I’m not playing for a month. But nothing can hold back that guy.” “I’m no doubting Thomas,” cracked coach Ron Rivera.
Davis’ three knee injuries cut short his seasons in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Still, he is as fast as ever and seems to be getting better each season. He turned in perhaps his best season in 2015, with 105 tackles and career highs in sacks (5½), forced fumbles (four) and interceptions (four). And while he was going through hundreds upon hundreds of gruelling leg raises, squats and stretches to rebuild his knee, Davis at times did contemplate retirement. But, mostly, those were fleeting thoughts. In the back of his mind was the Super Bowl.
“I never really look at it from a personal standpoint,” he said. “It’s great for this team to be in this position. We’ve worked so hard all season long to accomplish this goal and put ourselves in this position to possibly win.”