Vontae Davis

USA Today

Vontae's Halftime Retirement

Amazing. I’ve never heard of anything like that.

September 17, 2018 - 10:36 am
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And then there are the Buffalo Bills. Let me start by saying I hate it when bad things happen to good people. And the 2018 Bills are a bad thing happening to some good people – Bills fans, Bills players, and the City of Buffalo. 

We’re just two games into the season and it already feels like the Bills are the new Browns. Not just because they lost 31-20 at home to the Chargers. But because bad doesn’t begin to describe what happened yesterday. Sure, there was the fact that they fell behind 28-3 in the second quarter. At home. There were dumb moves on special teams. There was head coach Sean McDermott ripping the play calling duties from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. But that wasn’t even the biggest thing that happened at halftime.

Because that’s when Bills cornerback Vontae Davis quit….errr, retired. Wait, what? McDermott said that Davis "Pulled himself out of the game. He communicated to us that he was done."

Done for the game? Done for the season? Nope. Done for good. Like done done. It’s one thing when you’re losing at halftime, it’s another thing when one of your players just bails. Just bounces. Just up and quits. 

A little background: Davis was signed by the Bills in February. And in June, he tweeted a pic of himself in a Bills uniform with the caption: Suit up. Not long now. #BillsMafia

I guess he meant, I won’t be suited up for long now. 

Look, I want to make something clear before I continue. I’ve never played football. I have only a tiny idea of the physical and psychological toll that it takes on a human being to do that week in and week out for years of your life. 

So it’s pretty easy for me to sit in an air conditioned studio in Southern California and try to get all fire with it by saying “hey, that’s not retiring, that’s quitting” and yell about how Vontae Davis is a quitter and scream about how you have to be mentally tough to play this game. And that when life hands you lemons, you quit. And that when the going gets tough, quit. 

I don’t know what was going on in Davis’ head yesterday, but I know it wasn’t good. It was really, really bad. It sure seems like something snapped. Because this isn’t boxing where guys will sit on a stool and not come out after a round. That happens. This never happens. 

Last night, Davis released a statement where he laid out his reasons for walking away and they all seem like fine reasons for retiring…in the offseason or a bye week or even mid-week, but mid-game? You couldn’t just make it through the second half? Say that you got an injury. Stand on the sideline you’re your teammates. Maybe sleep on it? Think it over? Talk about it with the guys in the secondary? 

Or just walk out while they’re getting treatment and talking about the game plan for the second half. 

Again, I have no idea what Davis was going through. But his teammates do. They were taking the same beating on the field that he was, and they weren’t impressed that he bailed. I’m not going to call him a quitter, I don’t’ have to.  Because they are. And that carries a lot more weight than me doing it. 

Safety Rafael Bush said: “I did lose a little respect for him just as a man. In this game we’re always taught to fight until the end. For you to give up on your teammates like that in the middle of a game, I’ve just never seen anything like that.” And he wasn’t done: “Those are some of the things that are just inexcusable. As a man and as a player that’s been playing a long time, it’s a pride thing. You don’t just quit on your teammates like that.”

So how did he do that? Did he just say, I’m good? Did he say, “I’ve got to get something from my car,” then go out to the parking lot and just drive off and never come back? 

According to The Athletic, “At halftime, Davis, 30, took his uniform off, put on his street clothes and left the stadium.”

Amazing. I’ve never heard of anything like that. And neither had his teammates.

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams was underwhelmed: "I’ve never been around that. Never heard anything like that. I think the only thing to say is he's where he needs to be right now." And when asked where that is, Williams responded: "That's not here, point blank and simple."

Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander wasn’t impressed, either. Again, I’m not going to call Vontae Davis a quitter. Alexander did that: “I’m going to show him more respect than he showed us as far as quitting on us in the middle of the game.”

And Alexander had more:

Williams and Alexander are a couple of vets, a couple of proud players who have put in their time and suffered through some brutal seasons. They know the pain, both emotional and physical, of playing in the NFL and you could tell they were flat out pissed. And they should be. Again, I could get all fire with it and say that dude didn’t retire, he flat out quit. But I don’t have to because his teammates are doing it for me. And unfortunately, that’s what Davis is going to be remembered for: leaving the battle and quitting on his teammates. When all he had to do was finish the game and handle it the right away a day or two later.