NFL: Panthers’ Davis says he isn’t through

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Associated Press
CHARLOTTEó Thomas Davis loves football so much he isnít about to let three knee injuries force him out of the game.
The often-injured Carolina Panthers linebacker refuses to put his shoulder pads on the shelf and plans to keep playing despite tearing the ACL in his right knee three times in the last two years.
Davisí latest knee injury came in Week 2 against Green Bay and heís been on injured reserve since. But the seven-year NFL veteran hasnít given up the dream of playing again.
Davis, 28, said he has some good years left and will do anything to play again ó even if that means volunteering to restructure his contract and take a pay cut.
As for life after football, Davis just isnít thinking about that right now.
ěI have a love for this game,î Davis said. ěAt this point I donít know whatís going to happen, but Iím going to do everything in my power to get back and make another run at it. It will be up to the Panthers whether or not they want to give me another shot.î
When the Panthers gave Davis a new contract in July they built in an injury clause designed to protect them against just such another setback.
Davis got a $7 million signing bonus up front, but is due another $8 million on the second day of the league year in 2012.
Thereís no chance the Panthers are going to give $8 million to a player whoíll have missed 39 games over the past three seasons and is coming off three torn ACLs, no matter how much they like him as a person.
And Davis knows that.
ěOf course Iím willing to restructure (my contract), as long as I get the opportunity to play,î said Davis, a first-round pick in 2005 out of Georgia. ěIím willing to do whatever it takes to be back. The money is not an issue for me. I have been blessed to make a pretty good living so far. At this point I just want to go out and play the game. I think I have a lot left and I can still play this game. Iím excited about it.î
Panthersí general manager Marty Hurney doesnít discuss contract situations, particularly in the middle of the season.
But he said if someone can make it back from three ACLs, itís Davis because of his strong work ethic.
ěThatís something that we will address and have conversations about down the road,î Hurney said of Davisí contract status. ěThomas is a leader and is a special talent and does everything you ask.î
If the Panthers decide not to give Davis the $8 million bonus and he doesnít agree to restructure his current deal heíd become a free agent and would be free to sign with any other team.
Thatís not what Davis wants.
His goal is to continue to play for the Panthers ó even at a reduced rate.
ěMy heart is here,î Davis said. ěThere ainít nowhere else Iíd rather play. Itís the love I have for these guys in the locker room. These are my brothers and I want to go out and compete and fight with them. I feel like weíre going to do great things around here and I want to be a part of that.î