Home NFL Vernon Davis talks Washington name change, NFL's COVID-19 concerns, his career after retirement and more – CBS Sports
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Vernon Davis talks Washington name change, NFL's COVID-19 concerns, his career after retirement and more – CBS Sports

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Much like the Washington football team, former tight end Vernon Davis is entering a new era in 2020. After 14 seasons in the league, Davis finally decided to call it quits earlier this offseason. He’s had a successful career by all accounts, having recorded the ninth-most receptions by a tight end in NFL history and also winning a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos in 2016. He announced his retirement in a humorous skit with Rob Gronkowski and James Harrison right before Super Bowl LIV. The former of those players obviously came back out of retirement to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but Davis feels comfortable with his decision to hang up the cleats. 

“I was just talking to a buddy of mine and he said, ‘How much money would it take for you to go back to football?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know man, I don’t know if I could do it.’ But it feels good, because I have new interests,” Davis told CBS Sports. “Producing films and acting — but (retirement) feels pretty good, I feel like I have done all that I could do in the game of football.” 

Davis has been acting for years and has tried his hand at producing. Recently, he acted in two films still in the works: “Red Winter” and “A Message from Brianna.” Davis is also now an investor, and has recently taken up a leadership role with a company — much like he did in various locker rooms he was a part of during his time in the NFL. 

Riff Cold Brewed, an Oregon-based coffee company, has brought Davis onto its advisory board to further strengthen its commitment to social equity and inclusion. The former tight end drew parallels from his new job and the leadership role he held while in the NFL. 

“I learned that anytime a company or business is looking to partner with someone, they look at what they have done, how they did it, what they stand for and it’s very imperative that you do that because you don’t want to bring just anyone into your company,” said Davis.

Riff saw Davis as a team leader and candidate that could empower, lift people up and make a difference in the business world.

“It goes hand-in-hand,” Davis said when comparing the NFL world and the business world. “Some of the qualities that you get from football you can apply that to real life. You’re supposed to take everything that you gain from experiences and apply it to whatever you do later on”

While Davis is doing his part off the field, he’s been keeping tabs on the efforts that the NFL has made in terms of social equity and awareness. The league will commit $250 million over 10 years to a fund to “combat systemic racism and support the battle against injustices faced by African Americans,” and will even play the Black national anthem before every Week 1 game this season. Davis appreciates the NFL’s efforts, but is much more worried about conducting a safe regular season during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think they’re on the right track,” said Davis. “My main thing is that I hope they are able to move forward and continue to move forward without postponing anything and everyone in the locker room can stay COVID-free and stay safe and everyone stay clean and do right by each other. But I think the NFL’s always — their mind has always been in the right place.” 

Many NFL players have decided to opt out this season due to the coronavirus, and Davis said that he would consider doing so as well in order to keep his family safe. 

“You can’t create social distancing on a team, you know?” said Davis. “There’s so much you have to do as a team — you go to dinner together, you get in the locker room together, you share the hot tub together so there’s no way to create social distancing. It just can’t be done.”

Since Davis spent the last four years in Washington, I had to ask him about the team’s decision to change their name. The former Maryland star was born in D.C. and grew up rooting for Washington’s NFL team, so the moniker does hold a special place in his heart, but he’s on board with whatever the fans want and claims this decision doesn’t change the history of the franchise itself.

“At the end of the day, whatever the fans want, you give them what they want because they make the game,” said Davis. “They make it interesting they make it fun. So for me, I will definitely miss the name because I grew up rooting for them, but at the end of the day, the organization won’t change, the people working there won’t change, the only thing that will change is the name. The team, the tradition and the legacy will always be there, it’s just the name that’s changed.”  

Many NFL players struggle with life after football, but Davis is taking that competitive drive and placing it in several different faculties. Like he did in the NFL, Davis wants to continue to be a leader and help a group of like-minded people reach a common goal with his new company. 

“I want to help them grow,” said Davis. “I want to help them create the growth that they need through relationships, through investors and through people that are like-minded. That’s what I’m trying to do, just bring whatever I can to the table in whatever I do.” 

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