'I shouldn't be out there anymore': Vontae Davis retires during half-time against LA Chargers

September 19, 2018

There's a time in football, when an aging vetern player has to call it quits. Its not because of mini-camps, training camps, the workouts, or even a lack of love for the game. Rather, its becuse of the long-term, damaging effects that years of physical abuse takes on the body. 

This past Sunday, Vontae Davis walked a very different path to retirement. At only 30 years old, and armed with a one-year, $5m contract signed with the Buffalo Bills in March, the cornerback suddenly lost his desire to play football and wasted no time in ending what was a memorable and productive career. 

What was strange about Davis' departure from the NFL was that it wasn't before the game, or even after it. Instead, he chose to retire during half-time while the Bills were trailing the LA Chargers 28-6 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

As the second quarter came to a close, Davis could be seen running off the field. 

As he entered the locker room, Davis began to take off his pads, unstrap his gloves, and remove his helmet. Not saying a word to anyone, he got dressed, walked out of the building, and drove home.

“This isn’t how I pictured retiring from the NFL,” the brother of Washington tight end Vernon Davis said in a statement released on social media.

“But in my 10th NFL season, I have been doing what my body has been programmed to do: Get ready to play on game day. I’ve endured multiple surgeries and played through many different injuries throughout my career and, over the last few weeks, this was the latest physical challenge.

“But today on the field, reality hit me fast and hard: I shouldn’t be out there anymore. 

“I meant no disrespect to my teammates and coaches. But I hold myself to a standard. Mentally, I always expect myself to play at a high level. But physically, I know today that isn’t possible, and I had an honest moment with myself. While I was on the field, I just didn’t feel right, and I told the coaches, ‘I’m not feeling like myself.’

“I also wondered: Do I want to keep sacrificing?

“And truthfully, I do not because the season is long, and it’s more important for me and my family to walk away healthy than to willfully embrace the warrior mentality and limp away too late.

“This was an overwhelming decision, but I’m at peace with myself and my family. I choose to be grateful to God for allowing me to play the game that I have loved as a boy until I turned 30 years old. I choose to be grateful to God for being a part of the NFL and making lifelong friends over the last decade. There were roadblocks and pitfalls along the way, but I am grateful to God for all of it because he doesn’t promise any of us an easy journey.

“Lastly, I am grateful to God for what he has in store for me ahead, in this next chapter of my life.”

Unfortunately for Davis, his team-mates were not so accepting of his public statement. 

Veteran defensive player Lorenzo Alexander told reporters in the locker room after the Bills fell to 0-2 with a 31-20 loss that Davis had quit on the team at halftime and decided to retire.

"I don't have nothing to say about Vontae," Alexander said. "I'm going to give him a little bit more respect than he showed us today, as far as quitting on us in the middle of the game.

"I never have seen that. Pop Warner, high school, pros. Never heard of it. Never seen it. It's just completely disrespectful to his teammates. ... He didn't say nothing to nobody. I found out going into the second half of the game. They said he's not coming out. He retired. That's it."

What the future hold for Davis is uncertain. What is though is that the game of football has been changed indefinitely.