The Carolina Panthers are in the midst of their 20th NFL season, and linebacker Thomas Davis has been there for half of them. He’s a leader on and off the field, serving as a team captain and running his nonprofit Defending Dreams Foundation.
How does it feel being a 10-year veteran?
It’s rare for a guy to play 10 years with the same team in this league. I’ve had a bunch of injuries that I’ve had to deal with over my career, and I think this just speaks volumes about this organization and how they take care of their players.
There’s now a generation who’ve grown up as Panthers fans. What impact has that had?
Over the years we’ve seen our fan base grow—it’s gotten a lot stronger. We have a lot of teams come in, like Pittsburgh and Dallas and Washington, that have a very strong fan base here. But what we try to do is go out and play good football, and allow those people who’ve been fans of other teams to know that, hey, we’re playing good football right here.
Describe the atmosphere around Charlotte when the Panthers are winning.
The energy, not only in the stadium, but throughout the whole city of Charlotte is different when we’re doing a good job and we’re winning games. So we try to take that into every game, to do it for our fans and make sure we go out and put on a good performance for them.
What are your goals for this season?
Before I’m done playing this game, I want to become a Pro Bowl player. I also have a goal of becoming the all-time leading tackler for the Panthers; I’m currently second. For our team, we’re trying to bring this city a championship.
What’s the mission of your nonprofit organization?
We started the Defending Dreams Foundation in 2008, and it was something that my wife, Kelly, and I wanted to put together. With me being an NFL player, I’m in a position where I can make a difference. We want to see the kids in this community succeed, and we just try to do our part to make sure that’s possible.
What’s your favorite community project?
During Thanksgiving, we take all of the women and children from The Salvation Army Center of Hope and treat them to dinner at a restaurant downtown called Lola’s. We chauffeur them there, and we serve them. And for that time, their minds are not on their situation or what they’re going through in their lives.
Thomas Davis’ Perfect Day in Charlotte
8 am: Waffles, Please
I wake up and cook breakfast for my family, which is something I take pride in doing and is something that they love for me to do. But if we’re going out to eat, we love to visit Terrace Café. My kids are big fans of their red velvet waffles.
11 am: Family Fun
We like to take our kids to the park (Colonel Francis Beatty Park), and just spending time with them. Sometimes we take them to Sky High, which is like a gym with big trampolines. Or we might go to Sports Connection or Great Wolf Lodge. Our kids are very active and they love getting out and doing things, so I try to encourage them to do that.
2 pm: Lunch on the Run
If we’re having a late lunch and just grabbing something quick, like a good burger spot, we’ll go to Red Robin.
4 pm: Relaxation
We’ll just kick back at home for a little while.
7 pm: Date Night
My wife and I will go out, and our favorite spot to have dinner at is definitely Del Frisco’s. I’m a huge fan. I usually get a porterhouse or a steak called the Longbone. My wife loves seafood, so she may order the salmon or crab cakes.
9 pm: On the Town
After dinner, we’d probably go catch a movie. We’re big on going to watch movies and just spending time together. Or we’ll go downtown and check out the scenery. We’ll go to the EpiCentre and meet up with our friends.