The Tuesday Mailbag

After tearing his ACL three times in three years, Thomas Davis fought back. The Panthers linebacker now is having his finest season as a pro, but his greatest achievement doesn't have anything to do with football. Plus, a reader mailbag

We’ll see about Tony Romo’s availability Sunday night, though I’m trusting Adam Schefter saying he’s out and facing surgery on a herniated disk, despite Jerry Jones assertion to the Dallas Morning News Monday night that, “There is nothing structurally that will rule him out if he feels good and is cleared to play—nothing.” Two things: You’ve got to hand it to Romo for playing with a back problem for some or most of Sunday’s game, and for leading Dallas from a nine-point deficit with eight minutes to play to the win at Washington. And this is why they paid Kyle Orton like a borderline starter before the 2012 season. I thought Philadelphia would win Sunday’s game before the injury anyway, but this just puts an exclamation point on it.

***

Every year, I am asked to vote in the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year balloting. Each team nominates one player, and the bios of 32 players are sent out (with what a player does off the field as important as, or moreso than, what he does on the field), and I digest the information and vote for my top three. Each year, this gives me a chance to see some of the good people in the league and the good deeds they do.

This year was a strong year for the men of the year. I decided that, in this Christmas Week, I would take a column and write about one of the players who impressed me this season, and let him represent the good guys in the NFL who do a lot and don’t get noticed very much for it. I spoke with Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis last week, and he’s got quite a story to tell.

Davis, from the small town of Shellman, Ga., was a first-round pick of the Panthers in 2005. He was having a good but not spectacular career when, midway through the 2009, he tore his ACL in his right knee playing for the Panthers. The following June, working out in the Panthers’ off-season program, he re-tore the ligament, a devastating blow. But that gave him all of the 2010 to rehab the injury, and the knee felt strong entering the 2011 season. In his second game that season, against Green Bay, he tore it for a third time.

Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis suffered three torn ACLs in four years, the last coming at the beginning of the 2011 season. He came back from each and is now having his best season as a pro. (Jeff Siner/Getty Images)
Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis suffered three torn ACLs in three years, the last coming at the beginning of the 2011 season. He came back from each and is now having his best season as a pro. (Jeff Siner/Getty Images)

Last season, Davis played well—and didn’t aggravate the knee. This year, through 15 games, he’s having the best year of his pro life. His 117 tackles, four sacks and eight passes defensed are career bests, and his athletic, leaping interception of a Drew Brees pass while dropping into coverage was a huge play in Carolina’s NFC South-changing victory Sunday.

“After my third time (tearing the ACL),’’ Davis said, “I just figured that day, ‘I put up a good fight. It’s over.’ But when I went home that night my wife asked me if, in my heart, I thought I was done with the game. And I just figured I had to have surgery regardless. Why not try?’’

That’s the way Davis lives his life. In his words, what he’s doing with his Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation, and why he’s made it a part of his every-day life:

“It was never about starting a foundation and letting somebody else run it. It was about being involved with something I believed in, and touching as many lives as I can. I call it the Defending Dreams Foundations because these kids have dreams and aspirations, as I did. But so many of them, like me, financially can’t get things done. I was that way, growing up in a small city of 900 or 1,000, Shellman, Ga. Kids there don’t have much. They don’t feel they can achieve their dreams. The poverty level is high there. My mom struggled. She was a single parent. We’d have Christmas without getting a gift. It was tough. That’s one of the things we do—we get gifts for at least 300 kids now. In Charlotte, as soon as I leave practice today, I go out and purchase all of the gifts with my board members, and we put them in a U-Haul, 5 board members, and try to help those kids. We do it for the kids in Shellman too. I couldn’t go this year but my wife, who is the executive director of the foundation, drove there and helped four or five families in dire need.

As a young kid, I knew my circumstances, I didn’t have the opportunity. I know as a leader of the community, I can give back. I want to be part of the solution.

“Every summer we do a book bag giveaway … 300 kids. We go out and buy the book bags and all the supplies: pencils, rulers, papers, crayons, all the school supplies you can think of, and we put them together in my living room. At Thanksgiving, we took the 160 women at the Salvation Army Center of Hope, rented a bus, and took them in two shifts to a restaurant that closed down so we could give them a real Thanksgiving dinner. We take them out of their circumstances for a few hours and try to put smiles on their faces. All they are thinking is enjoying a real meal at a restaurant and getting out of their circumstances for a few hours. It is so good to see.

“What am I proud of? … Well, Shellman, Ga., never had a playground when I lived there. Not even a simple, tiny playground. That really was disappointing to me. So we decided to go back and put in a huge playground—swings, slides, monkey bars, grills—and the city put in a drinking fountain. So now they have somewhere the kids can go and play. The city is divided by railroad tracks, and I think the playground, which is used by all kids, has helped bring some parts of that city together. Driving by, I get so excited for the kids, having something I never had.

“I do things like that because I love to see kids have smiles on their faces. As a young kid, I knew my circumstances, I didn’t have the opportunity. I know as a leader of the community, I can give back. I want to be part of the solution.”

You are.

***

***

Now for your email, which was heavy on another Panther:

For 59 minutes against the Saints, the performance of Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers offense mirrored the conditions at Bank of America Stadium: a mess. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
For 59 minutes against the Saints, the performance of Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers offense mirrored the conditions at Bank of America Stadium: a mess. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

YOUR TWEETS STINK. In case you haven’t heard, your tweets about Cam Newton have really angered a lot of people in Charlotte! It’s very obvious that you dislike Newton and were rooting against him during the game. Would you have said the same about other QBs in the same situation? I don’t think so. Your bias was very evident and it leaves me (and I’m sure others) questioning your credibility.

—John King, Charlotte

Did you watch the game? At the time of my tweets, in which I said Newton was “failing miserably,” he was failing miserably. Four straight three-and-outs. Twelve possessions on the day to that point, and only the one-play, 43-yard touchdown drive (a DeAngelo Williams run) for the offense in the first 59 minutes. After the game, Newton admitted he was frustrated by not putting the performance he wanted. In the last minute of the game, Newton put a terrific five-play, 65-yard drive together, with two of the three passes tough, clutch throws.

So … would you, and the general public, prefer I not tweet during sports events, wait till the end of the game, and then state my opinion at the end of the game? Or should I tweet only positive thoughts that wouldn’t be offensive to anyone? This was the game of the day in the NFL, and I was watching at NBC, and I had a few observations, and I made them. You won’t get an apology out of me for expressing my opinion.

AM I BIASED BECAUSE CAM NEWTON DOESN’T TALK TO ME? You mentioned your tweets about Cam Newton during the Saints-Panthers game, and Deadspin mentioned them as well. What do you say to critics who say that your writing and opinions are biased based on who you’re close with? I personally believe that no matter what you (or anyone else) write, someone will always find something to complain about, but it’d be interesting to hear your thoughts. Thanks and happy holidays.

—Steven W., New York City

That’s a good question. All I can say to those who say I am biased toward Cam Newton is that, although I have not spoken to him since before the 2011 draft, I approach him with an open mind. If I criticize him, as I did during the fourth quarter Sunday, it’s because I thought he was playing subpar football. Am I closer to some players than others? Yes, as are most reporters who cover the NFL. I try at all times to not let my relationships with players influence what I write, and sometimes it’s hard. But in this case, all I can say is I was trying to write what I saw in a football game. That’s not going to change.

I SHOULD NOT HAVE IGNORED TONY ROMO. Not a word about Romo, eh? Wonder why he gets such a bad rep? His mistakes are magnified and he doesn’t get credit when he does something good. He single handedly (and on one leg) saves his team’s season (perhaps temporarily), but not a single word about it. Are you going to tell me it wouldn’t be one of your lead stories if he had thrown an interception to likely eliminate them from the playoffs? There’s nothing juicier than that.

—Kirk, Fairfax, Va.

MMQB Mail

Got a question for Peter? Send it to talkback@themmqb.com and it might be included in next Tuesday's mailbag.

People read a lot into what I write about, and what I don’t write about. I try to write four or five chunks of the column about distinctive things that happen in the weekend’s games, or on topics around the NFL, and I can’t get to all of them. I like Romo, and I have what I think is a good relationship with him. Ignoring what happened at the end of the game Sunday was not a knock.

THE CARDINALS DESERVE A SPOT IN THE PLAYOFFS. If the Arizona Cardinals reach 11 wins and do not make the postseason, then this will be twice in the past decade that an 11-win team does not make the dance. This exposes a major flaw in the way the NFL rules handle playoff seeding and it needs to be fixed. My proposal is this. The two division winners with the best records get the bye. The other two division winners get lumped into the Wild Card hunt and get no automatic entry into the playoffs. Not only will this ensure the “best” teams make it in, it will also lead to more competitive weeks 16 and 17.

—Andrew

I think every team that wins a division should make the playoffs. I am actually okay with the occasional Arizona not making it, because there has to be a premium for finishing first in a division. Where I would like to see the system changed: The fifth seed in the NFC could be a 12-game winner and could have to travel to an eight-win fourth seed, if Green Bay beats Chicago Sunday. I am in favor of seeding based on record, with no regard to division winner. If you win the division, you deserve to be in the postseason, but you do not deserve to host a playoff game if your record is inferior to another team’s.

HE THINKS PEYTON MANNING AND THE BRONCOS RAN IT UP. Congratulations to the affable and marketable Peyton Manning breaking yet another NFL passing record. My question is why Peyton gets a pass on running up the score and passing late in games. I seem to remember certain media members questioning Bill Belichick/Tom Brady for ‘bullying’ lesser teams in the search for the record in 2007. Seems odd that the Sportsman of the Year gets no guff.

—Casey

Denver was up 17 with 5:16 to play Sunday when Manning drove for the last touchdown. I don’t call that running up the score, because two scores and an onside kick, while highly unlikely, are certainly conceivable. The game you’re talking about in 2007—at least one of them—was New England up 38-0 early in the fourth quarter against Washington and Tom Brady throwing seven or eight passes on a drive to make it 45-0. I thought that was excessive. But if you think Denver should have grinded out a four- or five-minute drive to bleed the clock there instead of scoring, I understand. I think you could probably find a few examples of teams up by 17 with five or six minutes left in a game still trying to score.

39 comments
Sdwalt
Sdwalt

If you watched the game then you know Cam sucked until the end. Why would people get mad about PK saying that?.

WCoastPro
WCoastPro

Playoff system is fine! You need incentive to win the division. Then be one of the 2 best wildcards and you get in. It's rare when an 11-5 team doesn't get in. 

Mark_Rigney
Mark_Rigney

I like Romo, and I have what I think is a good relationship with him. Ignoring what happened at the end of the game Sunday was not a knock."


Maybe it wasn't a knock - but it was silly.  OK back to your Tom Brady coverage now...

MikeAlden
MikeAlden

Thanks for sharing the story about Thomas Davis.  He deserves some props. 


I'm a Panther fan and have no issue with your comments about Cam.  They were spot on at the time.  Keep tweeting both the good and bad.  (And I notice many commenters here don't have a problem criticizing you despite not personally speaking with you since...?)


Funny, I woke up thinking about the same playoff seeding idea, except that I'd like to see your idea modified if the division winner has a losing record.  In that case, the better record should trump division winner.

bpgresham
bpgresham

Wait a minute.....Peter hasn't spoken to Cam since before the draft when Peter fired up the false "icon" controversy.

That shows bias right there. How many times has he spoken to Luck, Wilson, RGIII and Kaepernick?

Cam has started his career with the two best rookie and sophomore QB seasons in history. The Panthers have been good for three years --- they just learned how to win close games this season.

It's ok to have bias, just get it fixed once you realize it.

bpgresham
bpgresham

Wait a minute.....Peter hasn't spoken to Cam since before the draft when Peter fired up the false "icon" controversy.

That sh

CMFJ
CMFJ

" I like Romo, and I have what I think is a good relationship with him. Ignoring what happened at the end of the game Sunday was not a knock."


I think that misses the point.  The current wisdom on Romo is that he is not clutch and makes mistakes at the end of games.  The previous week, that was driven home in MMQB.  While the criticism was true that he failed at critical moments in the game, it smacked of confirmation bias to me, since the defense had allowed 5 TDs in 5 drives in the game yet was only very briefly mentioned.  As the questioner implied, the lack of coverage is just more of the same confirmation bias - Romo fails in close moments, so only those moments are of note.  Last year, MMQB believed that Eli Manning was having an incredibly clutch year.  After a Giants/Cowboys game that the Giants won because the Cowboys kicker missed a FG, the column basically held this as evidence that Eli was clutch and Romo was not.  


I don't think MMQB is biased, which requires actual thought towards and end.  I think that MMQB has opinions of certain players and results that reinforce those opinions are more likely to be part of the narrative.  MMQB is less guilty of this than the vast majority of NFL (or NBA) coverage, but it still happens, in particular with regard to QBs and coaches.

OttawaWendy
OttawaWendy

Peter, thanks for the story about Thomas Davis.  It's a great counterweight to the Aaron Hernandez stories which also come from the NFL.  I would love to see a smaller snapshot like this (a paragraph or two outlining what a guy does in the community) become a regular feature of the MMQB.  I suspect a lot of guys are doing good work without a lot of attention, and it would be nice to hear about some of it.

EmmittDale
EmmittDale

I have to agree with Kirk in Fairfax. Part of the reason Romo has such a negative reputation is the coverage of his flaws and the lack of coverage of his strengths. Fairness in reporting rather than his gameplay is the reason he's been labeled a choker.

KeyzaSoulsay
KeyzaSoulsay

Actually,  I don't think anyone would would really care if Peter King (or any sports writer) stopped tweeting during games.  Oh, and did I miss the tweets about how awful Drew Brees was playing?

DCotoz
DCotoz

I don't believe in such thing as running up the score, if the defense doesn't like it then stop the offense. Also, you want to eliminate all chances of a comeback from the opposing team.


Man up and play football

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

plus peyton manning knows any deficit can be overcome, as remember a few years ago colts trailed the defending super bowl champs i believe 35-14 and ended up getting 24 unanswered to win the game and i believe there was even less time in that game.  look fox has made sure as not to run up the score as again  as pete mentioned the broncos eagles game, osweiller played the 4th quarter

kcsh18
kcsh18

Can anybody, anybody please, in the national media start sounding the drumbeats to get some of these antiquated fossils with long histories of incompetence off the field and in a Footlocker if they insist on wearing black and white striped shirts every weekend?  How can the NFL continue with the charade that Walt Coleman is competent enough or spry enough to keep up with the demands of today's NFL?  If they know he is not an incompetent clown, why has he not done an Oakland game since the "Tuck Rule" game?  And what exactly was that call on Dontae Whitner's hit on Stephen Jackson last night?  Did he hit him too hard, was that the problem?  If that is the crap the new NFL is selling, where WR's like EDelman are coached to take dives based on a crew's propensity for calling DPI, then pass the clicker, and get me a season ticket to the local high school's games.

yaeyah
yaeyah

Your response to the Charlotte hate was great, Peter. I made the mistake of clicking on that Deadspin link and never again will I visit that site. The article itself, not to mention the comments below, are despicable. So many avenues for people to express their hate these days and Twitter is just the start. Everyone can have an opinion, but wayyyy too many people think their opinion should be the only one. Keep doing what you do Peter, some people out there just look at you strictly as a football reporter and will continue to do the same thing. 

Mark20
Mark20

"I try at all times to not let my relationships with players influence what I write"

Yeah, like when he was worshiping Brett Favre a few years ago. Reporting on having dinner with the Favre family. You can be really objective when you have a relationship like that with someone you are supposed to be covering.

vt59
vt59

"So … would you, and the general public, prefer I not tweet during sports events, wait till the end of the game, and then state my opinion at the end of the game? "......... Yes, Peter!!! Please wait!!!!!

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

I'm mad at PK because he keeps on writing what HE wants instead of what I want. The nerve of the guy.

Odin's Goat
Odin's Goat

While I don't agree with everything I read in MMQB, I appreciate the effort PK puts in every week.  Haters gonna hate.

friendly--neighborhood--scrawler
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler

@Sdwalt 

and Drew Brees was worse period..   because when guys like Drew Brees are just terrible on the field, its ignored or reporters find other reasons for them not playing well ... Guys like Brees , Manning and i notice with Andrew Luck are only judge by when they are at thier best in games... eg... last year all this praise about Luck leading all these comebacks... when reporters ignore the FACT that Luck either put his team in that position to trail with his int's or pick six or just didnt move the ball and his defense held it together long enough for a last drive . At the end of the game all we hear is how great Luck was period... end of story....

EnashWaca
EnashWaca

@Mark_Rigney
  except he didn't have any Tom Brady coverage either.  But no reason to let the truth get in the way of your whining.

blynder
blynder

@bpgresham 

I understood the lack of communication w/Cam to be more on Cam's end than PK's.  Based, probably, on something PK said in the past. (LOL) Kinda like PK and Leon Sandc... I men Deion Sanders were not speaking for a while.

EmmittDale
EmmittDale

The story that should be written about Romo is how he has carried this team on his back to within one game of a division title. This, with a defense that is putting up historically bad numbers, has been through 30+ players on the defensive line! has played most of the year without their top corner! lost their top offensive lineman acquisition for the year, etc., etc. If Brady, either Manning, or Brees had similar circumstances this year the story would have been one of overcoming multiple challenges to contend for a division they had no business winning. All the losses are Romo's fault and all the wins are a team effort, right?

RobertSmith
RobertSmith

@CMFJ Confirmation bias is common.  Peter posts stories that confirm his bias and omits stories that counter his bias.  Romo is one of the most pronounced examples of how confirmation bias works.  He is a very good QB  ... definitely top 10 in the league ... but "experts" including Peter focus on his failures to the exclusion of his successes more so than they do with any other player.  The numbers don't lie, and Romo carries a not-very-good Jerry Jones team and has led dozens of late-game comebacks.  

srm
srm

@DCotozI wholeheartedly agree!  This is professional sports, not peewee league....  There is no such thing as running up the score in professional sports.  These guys get paid in the millions.  You are right....if they don't like it, stop the offense.  And last but not least, fans pay TONS of money to come see the superstar of the team play at their best.  They don't pay to watch the superstar of the team hold back and stop scoring.  I'm so sick of hearing people whine about another team running up the score.  Get over it.

Ryan19
Ryan19

@DCotoz I agree with the idea of stopping it if you don't like getting worked over.  However, the downside is rubbing it their face so much that they start head-hunting.  These guys have enormous egos so it is always a possibility that running up the score will result in losing a star player for an extended period of time.  It's just sometimes hard to find the line between putting the game away (Denver) and running up the score (Patriots).  

blynder
blynder

@kcsh18 

Wasn't the foul on Whitner a leading w/the helmet and hitting the helmet foul?

Phroggo
Phroggo

@kcsh18 


The college game is getting much more interesting.  They have a better replay system and their rules make it easier to officiate.  It should be more interesting next year with the limited playoff system which, no doubt, will lead to a bigger tournament and a more interesting product in the years to come.

Sdwalt
Sdwalt

@vt59Maybe you should stop reading until the end of the game.


CoreyLivermore
CoreyLivermore

@vt59

How about we all just wait until the end of our lives before we tweet what we really think about everything?  Because nobody has ever said or tweeted their opinion and then had their opinion change because circumstances change, right?

Mike26
Mike26

@Rickapolis Thank you Rick!  I agree completely and am 100% with MMQB!  And Mailbag!

tomcamma
tomcamma

I wouldn't engage him. Reedster is the biggest Patriots honk on the site. Literally every comment he ever makes is about the Patriots. He's a dedicated supporter.

GoEagles
GoEagles

@Reedster2185 Your post should qualify for "Little Girl of the Year Post."  I'm not a Patriots fan.


blynder
blynder

@Odin's Goat 

I agree w/you.  I don't agree w/everything PK says - but I appreciate the column never-the-less.  Very true.  Haters gonna hate, and trollers gonna troll.  

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

@Odin's Goat And if we all did agree with everything, wouldn't it be incredibly dull? But as you say, haters gonna hate.

blynder
blynder

@RobertSmith @CMFJ 

Well you could say that of most sports stories, not just the Romo example.  I appreciate you naming that as function of all sports media.  The narratives about Brady (we get lots of his high-fashion model having life here where I am, including commentary on his clothes) and Manning (cannot play in cold weather, super detailed) Wilson, etc.  It is a good reminder that we're always inundated with bias of some sort or the other.

Nice example of Confirmation Bias BTW.  Throw in a little Fundamental Attribution Error and Stats, and I'm back in grad school. ;)

Cy1
Cy1

@blynder @Odin's Goat Great comment Blynder. Heck, half the time the things I disagree with are his overly-rosy reports on my own team!

Cy1
Cy1

@blynder @RobertSmith @CMFJ I agree. Please find me any news outlet that does not practice confirmation bias on a daily basis and I'll instantly subscribe to their content. 


I have to sympathize with Peter though. Every week someone complains about him not mentioning this or that story line of the week. There are probably 500 stories that could be told each week. Peter writes about five. Give him a break. And for whatever it's worth, Peter has never seemed opposed to admitting he missed a good story or reversing a statement that a player proved wrong the next week. He often applauds guys that are a goat one week and redeem themselves the next.

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