Don Davis held an 11-year career in the National Football League (NFL) that included four teams: New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots, where he was a two-time Super Bowl champion. Davis believes his long tenure in the league can be attributed to his call to minister to athletes. After retiring as a player for the Patriots, he transitioned to an assistant strength and conditioning coaching position under the leadership of well-known head coach Bill Belichick. Davis also served as the team’s chaplain.
Sensing a call from the Lord to pursue full-time ministry, Davis began directing NFL programs for Pro Athletes Outreach in 2008. The outreach program is a conference-based ministry for professional athletes. He was hired as regional director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) in 2010. Davis also speaks regularly for organizations like Iron Sharpens Iron, as well as local churches. He hopes his integrity will allow many to see God shining through him.
Q: It’s been awesome to see how God has used you as an NFL player, coach, chaplain and now NFLPA representative.
A: It really has, my passion and purpose in God’s plan have aligned. Because of that it’s giving me a tremendous amount of focus, so I am in a sweet season of life right now.
Q: You won two Super Bowls as a player with the Patriots. What is the “Deflate-gate” situation like right now inside the Patriots’ locker room as they prepare for the 2015 season?
A: The number one enemy of greatness is distractions. Belichick is the reason why the New England Patriots have been on top for so long. They tend to be there in the end of the year for the championship because they have been able to handle and eliminate distractions. This is a huge distraction because it has to do with one of their star players in New England, Tom Brady. It’s all anyone wants to talk about. It takes away from the preparation of the work that goes into the season. Whenever you focus on the past you can’t move into the future.
Q: What is Belichick’s specific message coming off a Super Bowl championship year?
A: His message is that whether you won the Super Bowl or not is irrelevant. That was last year. Belichick hates hearing words that defend Super Bowl champions, because you’re not defending anything. The team is starting all over again. The Patriots have been in these kind of situations before, and it will all pan out in the end.
Q: I have had the opportunity to talk with Brady on several occasions, and last year I noticed a new maturity in his life. You have spent time around him as a teammate and chaplain, where is he in his spiritual journey?
A: When it comes to Brady, I think there’s been some growth when it comes to faith. He claims Catholicism. It’s his background. Our background, experience and what we’re exposed to all three come together as our spiritual experience. Those things come together to form our spiritual foundation. There is a spiritual foundation with Brady.
Q: What is the biggest challenge to spiritual awakening and growth for a professional athlete?
A: The athlete – including Brady – is no different from anyone else. There are things that you want. There are things that you wish you could have, and there’s a lot of distractions out there. So what you find yourself doing is seeking things that are solid, and sometimes the only thing that is solid is our relationship with Jesus Christ. We need to pray for Brady and all the other athletes, that they would come to know who Jesus is and exactly what He wants to do with their life.
Q: What spiritual opportunities are available during the season for players and families?
A: A Bible study is available for the players. Many teams try to make that available weekly, if not more often. Then you have chapel services before each game made available for every NFL team. There’s usually a couples’ or wives’ Bible study available as well.
Visit realdondavis.com to find news and updates about Davis’s ministry in the NFL.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman Gabriel is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Hear his Sold Out Sports Talk Radio program on American Family Radio in 200 cities nationally or live at afr.net. Visit his website: soldouttv.com; Facebook: Roman Gabriel III; connect on Twitter: @romangabriel3rd. Contact at (910) 431-6483 or email: [email protected].)