Tuesday morning The Junkies were joined by former Redskins fan favorite, Stephen Davis, who was drafted by Washington in 1996 and stayed on the team’s roster through the 2002 season.
Davis, who had 5,970 rushing yards during his 7 years here in D.C., is the 4th leading rusher in team history, behind the likes of Redskins greats, Larry Brown, Clinton Portis and John Riggins, respectively.
Stephen Davis hasn’t had it easy since his final down in the NFL (St. Louis – 2006), and is one of approximately 2,600 players who have filed a concussion-related lawsuit against the NFL. The former star has said that at just 38 years old, concussions have made his post-NFL life so troublesome that he cannot lift his arms above his shoulders, he hates being in the sunlight, driving a car is a challenge, he can’t stand up for extended periods of time, and he needs background noise on in the room to detract from the constant ringing in his ears.
“Playing football; the way I ran the ball, it was hard. Like I was telling somebody the other day, I should have run out of bounds more than I did. You get comments from people saying you made a lot of money while you were playing and all of this, but the thing is, they don’t see the after effect.”
Davis said his main concern and reason for his lawsuit against the league is getting the medical coverage that he needs, something that isn’t cheap.
When asked if he remembers having any concussions before his NFL career that may have contributed to his ailments, Stephen admitted he had once concussion in college.
“There were plenty of times where I’d walk back to the huddle and see the little white dots, and I’d have to ask the quarterback ‘What play is this?’.
Davis specified that the rigors of the NFL not only come from the physical toll that playing takes on the body, but the expectation of the leagues bigger stars.
“The main thing is, if you’re a high profile player, the coaches want you on the field. If you’re not on the field, you’ll be off the team. It’s as simple as that. And every week you try to be on the field and do the things that you were capable of doing, because if you weren’t you’d be home.”
Stephen elaborated on that pressure of performing, saying sometimes he would have up to 2 or 3 concussion in a game, and wouldn’t come off the field.
“You wouldn’t tell nobody because you didn’t want to come out the game. I mean, it’s rough. You want to stay on the field, and back then, the only thing they did was, they’d tell you to follow a pen, put your hand on your nose and count down from 100 to 1 backwards. That’s the only thing that they did. Like today, they’ll hold you out two or three weeks.”
In a followup question, Davis was asked why he would allow his son to play football, knowing the toll the sport took on his own body. Stephen responded by saying he worries about him every day, but as a father, he wouldn’t try to stop him from doing what he wants to do.
“The only thing I’m going to explain to him is what I’m going through. I tell him, this is what’s going on with my body. Understand this. You’ve got to do everything as far as taking care of yourself and making sure that you’re not in the position that I am. I’m not going to discourage him from playing football, playing baseball, basketball…whatever. I’m going to make him understand what could possibly happen if he plays football.”
Davis played his last 4 seasons elsewhere in the league, including a 1,444-yard career best with Carolina in 2003 that led to a Super Bowl appearance, but as Stephen told The Junkies, “I’ll always be a Redskin.”