Nov 18, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Thomas Davis (58) is introduced before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Davis: The Panther That Keeps Pounding

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The career of Thomas Davis is far from over.  It’s something that is building to more than simply a career but a legacy.  As Panther fans we have had the privilege of watching him grow throughout his entire career, and now we can rest assured that we will see that career unfold completely in only black and blue.

Yesterday came the article from Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer in which Davis was quoted saying: “My mindset right now is, I’m going to play for the Carolina Panthers or I’m done playing football.” That’s a statement that all Panthers fans can take pride in.  

Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody represents Carolina Panthers football better than Thomas Davis.  His number of 58 alone is an example of why he will one day retire as one of our greatest players ever.

Davis was drafted in the first round of 2005 as a safety.  He was drafted with the intention of being converted to a linebacker and in his first years on the team wore the number 47.  After Mark Fields retired Davis specifically asked his permission for the number.  Mark Fields for those who remember was a great outside linebacker and one of the men whose struggle specifically drove the Panthers emotionally during their Super Bowl run in 2003.

Mark Fields was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease before the season started in 2003.  His struggle, as well as the one being undergone by linebackers coach Sam Mills, was what motivated the Panthers to exceed expectations that year.  It was the year KEEP POUNDING was born, coming from an incredible speech given to the team by Sam Mills before a playoff game.  All season the Panthers played with the numbers 58 and 51 under their jerseys and once the game got heated those numbers would stand out through the sweat soaked jerseys of the players on the field.

Mark Fields eventually recovered to return for a full year of play in 2004 but his Hodgkins came back during the offseason and he retired soon after.

My mindset right now is, I’m going to play for the Carolina Panthers or I’m done playing football.” - Thomas Davis

As 58, Mark Fields was a tribute to perseverance and overcoming the odds.  He was a man that Panthers fans could be proud of, and it was hard to imagine anyone else wearing his number again.

No one could ever imagine how well the next man to bear that number on his chest would live up to its meaning.  As 58, Thomas Davis has not only been an even more exceptional player but he has truly lived up to the legacy of the number by overcoming his own struggles.

It’s hard to imagine what it was like to be Thomas Davis in 2011.

After tearing the same ACL for the third time he had his mind set on doing something that nobody said he could.  He had to get up every day and struggle with the knowledge that people everywhere were saying that it was impossible.  The name Thomas Davis didn’t come up without a bit of discussion about how nobody had ever returned from this same injury three times.

He didn’t listen.  He didn’t quit.  He got up every day and he kept pounding.  As we all know now he would not only return, but return to a form that exceeded what he had done before. Thomas Davis, as the right hand of Luke Kuechly, has been nothing short of phenomenal.

He had one of his greatest seasons ever in 2013 and Coach Ron Rivera was quick to point out that all the games missed during rehabilitation were games he didn’t experience the wear and tear on his body he would have in games.

Thomas Davis has shed his knee brace this year during offseason workouts and practice.  He has apparently been moving even faster without it, which is a salivating thought to think of.  He has faced some concern from fans about the decision but he has insisted there is no need to worry.  A couple of weeks ago he tweeted about it:

I think Thomas Davis has earned our respect and we should all trust in his decision. This man has done the impossible; he has remained humble throughout it all, and most importantly he has been a beast on the field.

Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to everything he has done on the field he has also been very active in the community.  His charity – Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation has served as a vessel for him to give back all the good fortune he has received himself. The foundation works to help underprivileged children nationwide through promoting education, athletics, and community service.

You could never ask for anymore from a player or a person.  We still have a lot to look forward to from Thomas Davis because he is far from done.  When it is finally all said and done he will retire as one of the greatest Panthers to ever don our colors.  He embodies everything that makes the Carolina Panthers organization special.  He has worn 58 proudly and served it well.  It is very comforting to know that when the day comes that he will retire as one of ours and only ours.

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