Spring 2021 Magazine

NFL Christ-followers Demario Davis, Josh Norman cross America to talk police reform, racism

In light of the recent racial unrest gripping the country and the ensuing conversations about police brutality, Demario Davis of the New Orleans Saints and Josh Norman of the Buffalo Bills decided to devote their time to doing what they can to help.

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The first-team All-Pro linebacker (in 2019) and cornerback (in 2015), respectively, spent last week traveling across the United States to listen to local communities and to help bridge the divide between police and the cities they serve. The idea for the trip came first from Norman and he floated the idea to his friend. The two had worked together to fight injustice before, helping children detained at the border in 2018.

“He felt like that’s what God told him to do, and he knows I’m gonna always roll with him,” Davis told Sports Illustrated. “So when he called me, I made space in my schedule, and we started moving, calling it like a ‘March Across America,’ starting in the South, coming out to the East Coast, and we’ll eventually make our way west, trying to get a general sentiment of what’s going on around country.”

The first stop for Davis and Norman was in Atlanta.

Davis told SI that he and Norman could not fix the problem with one trip, but the pair hoped to help initiate some desperately-needed conversations.

“It’s the heart of the people, and the sentiment from the ground, and also having the opportunity to meet with legislation, meet with mayors, meeting with police chiefs, getting to sit at the table with them,” Davis said. “And then seeing if the messages align and where the gaps are. And then understanding where the gaps are, where the miscommunication is, finding if there are areas to be diplomatic. Is there a miscommunication altogether? Or does something need to be changed?”

When Davis and Norman made their way to Buffalo, N.Y., where Norman signed in March to play for the Bills, they attended an event in which the mayor announced sweeping police reforms. Representatives from the Buffalo Police Department and various community leaders were also in attendance.

“We must look at ourselves in the mirror as public servants and ask, ‘Am I doing all that I could for the community?'” Norman said as he took the podium. Later, he added, “Things must change. They must change to blot out all the transgressions of the past. We have an opportunity.”

Both Davis and Norman are rooted in their faith in Christ, and they have felt God’s calling on their lives to help bring together people from all races and walks of life.

Norman said in 2018 after visiting Israel that he wants to leverage the platform as an NFL player that God’s given him.

“I feel with faith, you believe, you care, you achieve and we all make mistakes, like sports,” he said. “We’re here for a reason. I don’t have this ability off of a whim — it comes from something. So when you actually go out there and play, you want to give the respect due on which you came from back to Him. So we try to go out and be at our best, and we know we need help, we ask for it, He gives us the strength to go through it, through our abilities that He’s given us.”

Davis, who has been featured numerous times on Sports Spectrum’s platforms, said on a 2017 podcast episode that believers should radiate to the world the immeasurable love with which God has loved them.

“I think Christians, believers, have to lead the charge because God is love and He’s shown us what love is,” Davis said. “If we’re not leading the way and we’re not being a light, then we’re not doing our part.”

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