Thomas Davis calls chatter around Davante Adams hit 'very unfair'

ByDavid Newton ESPN logo
Thursday, December 28, 2017

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis says talk of him being a dirty player after his illegal hit onGreen Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams on Dec. 17 has been "very unfair."

Davis was suspended for one game for targeting a defenseless player in his second penalty from the NFL for an illegal hit. He had notspoken publicly about the hit that kept him out ofSunday's victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in which the Panthers (11-4) clinched a playoff spot.

"It's very unfair," Davis said Thursday of the criticism. "I've seen a lot of stuff that's being said. Obviously, people are going to form their own opinions based on what they saw. At the end of the day, I know for 13 years I've played the game the right way. I can rest easy on it."

The 2014 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year was fined $48,620 for a hit on Buccaneers wide receiver Adam Humphries earlier this season.

The criticism intensified on social media after Adams tweeted that Davis was "head hunting" when he led with the helmet on a blindside hit.

Adams suffered a concussion on the third-quarter play after an interception by safety Colin Jones. He missed the next week's game against the Minnesota Vikings and wasn't allowed to talk to reporters while in the protocol.

But on Twitter, Adams was outspoken, saying there "is no room for s--- like that" in the sport.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said at the time that there was nothing malicious behind Davis' hit, and he reiterated that Thursday, agreeing that criticism of the two-time Pro Bowler was unfair.

"The thing a lot of people have to understand is Thomas plays through the whistle," Rivera said. "He's going to play hard. He's always in a good hitting position. He never ducks his head. He hits with the front part of his body. He's a physical player.

"Unfortunately, when you have a couple of big hits like that and people react to them, some people may [say it's dirty]. I don't see that."

Davis admitted on social media after the hit that he made a mistake. Rivera said ideally Davis would have hit Adams lower, but he defended his player's reaction.

"If you look at it, he's got his knees bent, his hips bent, his waist bent, and he was coming through," Rivera said. "If there was any way for him to get lower, you would love for him to get lower. He sees Colin go by him with the ball and he turns and there's Davante. Unfortunately, he hit Davante in the head and neck area."

Rivera said that when he was a linebacker for the Chicago Bears in the mid-1980s to early 1990s "that's a good block." But he understands, with the league under so much scrutiny because of concussions, that the rules have changed and players have to adjust.

"The biggest thing is the league is heading in the right direction on this stuff," Rivera said. "It's tough. All those years you're taught this, and you see all these things that tell you that's how it used to be done. Well, it's changed. We have to make sure the players are learning it really is about player safety."