One of the unfortunate realities of the modern-day NFL is that even the vast majority of all-time great players do not get to play for one team their entire careers. And as such, many great players across the league have brought their playing days to an end elsewhere before being canonized by the teams where their legacies lie.
Bruce Smith on the Washington Redskins. LaDainian Tomlinson on the New York Jets. Jerry Rice on the Seattle Seahawks. And so forth and so forth. Assuming that the Carolina Panthers do not bring back their all-time leading tackler and franchise legend in linebacker Thomas Davis, he could very well have the option of continuing his playing career elsewhere. But for Davis, his legacy – and how wearing a uniform other than the Panthers’ would affect it – is one of the biggest considerations he has to confront as he enters the offseason without a contract for next year.
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“That’s the one thing that I look at that, more so than anything, that would not allow me to go play for another team,” said Davis on Monday of his legacy, as reported by Marcel Louis-Jacques of the Charlotte Observer. “You play somewhere your entire career – that’s special. That means something to me, to be able to say I played all of my career for one team.”
A first-round pick by the Panthers in the 2005 NFL Draft, Davis has played 14 seasons in Carolina and only for Carolina. And in order to play a 15th, Davis is willing to do whatever it takes as far as negotiations are concerned: To that end, he has taken multiple pay cuts throughout his career. Originally, Davis had planned for 2018 to be his final season, which would have guaranteed that he spent his entire career as a Panther. But after he was hit with a four-game suspension to begin the season, Davis backtracked on his original plan out of a desire to not have his career end under those circumstances.
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