Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis suggested Monday that a player’s character should factor into punishments given out by the league for policy violations.
Davis, a longtime team captain who was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2014 for his charity work, will miss the first four games of this season after failing a performance-enhancing drugs test at the end of last season.
When his suspension was announced, Davis posted a video on social media saying the failed test was caused by an estrogen blocker he had taken for seven or eight years without any punishment.
“The NFL has a tough job on their hands when you think about assessing fines, assessing punishment for certain things,” Davis told reporters on the Panthers’ final day of training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. “I mean, you would like to think they would take into consideration the player and what the guy has done over his career, but that’s not a part of what goes into it.
“Ultimately, the rules says we’re responsible for what we put in our bodies. I’ve just got to do a better job of understanding what’s in the things I’m taking. ... Once you take something for eight or nine years and you never have any issues, you never feel it’s going to be a problem until it’s a problem.”
The league’s policies stipulate more severe punishments for repeat offenders of policies — including escalating suspensions for PED, substance abuse or personal conduct violations — but there are no extenuating conditions that allow for lesser punishments based on a player’s character.
Davis, 35, said after last season that the 2018 campaign would be his last, but he said he’s changed his mind since receiving the four-game suspension. Davis now intends to play with the Panthers in 2019, if they bring him back.
Davis has played in 164 games in his career, starting 146. He has 28.0 sacks, 13 interceptions and 18 forced fumbles, and has earned three consecutive (2015-17) Pro Bowl appearances. In 2015, he was a first-team All-Pro.
—Field Level Media