Demario Davis plays football, and he’s played it well enough to enter 2018 on a $24-million contract that’ll take him through his ninth season in the NFL.
Football, however, is not his only — or even his biggest — identity.
“That’s not who I am,” he once said on the Sports Spectrum podcast. “I’m a man first. I’m a child of God first.”
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, then, that Davis was one of just 31 people identified by Time magazine this week as someone who is “Changing the South.” Committed to living with a “biblical lens” thanks to his Christian faith, the former New York Jets linebacker has only been with the New Orleans Saints since March. But his tireless efforts to do what the Bible says and love others has not gone unnoticed, as Time documented:
As a kid in Mississippi, New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis didn’t pick the typical childhood role models like athletes and superheroes. Instead, Davis idolized Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. “I just always gravitated toward people who sacrificed for the benefit of others,” he tells TIME.
In May, he and fellow Saints player Benjamin Watson wrote a letter supporting legislation to restore voting rights for some previously incarcerated Louisianans. The bill became law a few weeks later. When Davis met with NFL bigwigs to discuss the league’s stance on protests, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank told him he missed his calling as a public speaker.
Less than a month ago, Davis also teamed up with Josh Norman to deliver toys and backpacks to kids of families detained at the Texas-Mexico border. As he wrote for The Increase, ever since he prioritized his faith, community service has become a staple of his career:
(When) my life was transformed by the Gospel of Christ during my college years, the way I looked at everything changed. Suddenly I saw this sport as a platform to let the Gospel go forth. I saw my teammates in the locker room as souls that needed life breathed into them — souls that could potentially change the world. I saw this sport as a mission field; no longer was it about me, it was about using the blessing of this stage as a way to give all glory to God.
– THE INCREASE: A Continual Hunger – Demario Davis
– NEW PODCAST: Demario Davis – New York Jets linebacker
– NFL players Josh Norman, Demario Davis team up to help children detained at border