Ten-year NFL veteran and former Pro Bowl defensive back Vontae Davis quit on his Buffalo Bills teammates on Sunday. Football is a hard a game and at the NFL level, it’s downright brutal. The acute and long-term damage done to players mentally and physically has made the entire country rethink how the game should be played, who should play and for how long.At halftime of the Bills matchup against the L.A. Chargers on Sunday, Davis went into the locker room, showered, gathered his belongings and left the stadium. He didn’t talk to any of his teammates or coaches about his decision before leaving. The 0-1 Bills were down on the scoreboard, things didn’t look good for the second half and one its veterans and presumed team leaders had literally taken his ball and gone home.
Davis later announced his retirement on Instagram, but make no mistake, Vontae Davis quit on his team, and that’s not OK. He was certainly within his rights to walk away from football for any reason or no reason at all. The way he did it, however, was selfish and showed little concern for everyone else who had suited up on Sunday afternoon. There are 53 players on an NFL team roster, with 46 eligible to play on game day. Davis’ actions decreased Buffalo’s number to 45. The coaches had no time to adjust their plan by scheme or personnel. Playing 10 years in the NFL is an anomaly as the average NFL career last a little over three years.
The rookies who are adjusting from the college game and the second and third-year players who looked up to Davis weren’t worth a positive word nor an explanation. When Davis quit on his team, he sullied his own reputation. Every great play he’s made, every time he gutted through an injury, all of the trust he built up over a career of taking hits and giving them – all of it vanished when he walked out on his team when they arguably needed him most. There are a time and place for everything. The time and place to retire could have been Monday or Tuesday after meeting with teammates and coaches. The resentment and anger held by some of Davis’ teammates could have easily been an attitude of celebration and a cascade of well wishes.
Some people have applauded Vontae Davis for doing what he wanted at the moment he wanted. That’s not how life works, though. It’s not right to do what pleases you at the expense of everyone else. What if a parent decided to quit his or her job today without regard for their kids, mortgage, car payment or spouse? What if a student decided to walk out of class without the teacher’s permission? The decisions we make in life often affect others. Even if the choice feels right in the moment, consideration must be given to family, friends, teammates, and coworkers. A good decision at the wrong time can still do significant damage to a person’s reputation. A person who quits isn’t dependable. Athletes pride themselves on leaving it all out on the field. That’s a great statement for effort. Just don’t leave your relationships out there. You’ll need them long after you’ve hung up your cleats.