WASHINGTON — Even if he is months away from a return to meaningful football with the Washington Redskins, Vernon Davis was a big winner at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
So what if he never threw a curling stone down the ice, or mastered one of the brooms that they use to change the surface of the ice, or even stayed until the end of the Winter Games.
But on Saturday, after Davis had already returned stateside, the U.S.A. Men’s Curling team won gold–one of the most unexpected outcomes of the Winter Olympiad.
Davis posted on his Twitter account congratulating the team, along with a few memories with the team:
Davis has been a curling superfan for the last three Olympic cycles, named the honorary captain of the U.S.A. Curling team this time around. He was also the star of a national Cheetos campaign that capitalized on the verbal similarities between curling and cheese curls.
Curling has taken on a cult popularity in the U.S. during its time in the limelight but is largely forgotten for the intervening years. FiveThirtyEight.com showed that curling gets more attention than any other during the Olympics, noting:
If you look at nationwide Google Trends search data, you can see a massive spike in traffic related to the sport each February of a Winter Olympic year. Indeed, aside from figure skating — and occasionally other sports when they experience tragedy — curling consistently spikes highest in web searches among the Winter Olympic sports we don’t tend to think about over the rest of the calendar
By bringing in authentic brand evangelists like Davis, U.S.A. Curling has looped in a mainstream audience. That’s why we’ve covered the sport in D.C., and why many Redskins, 49ers and Broncos fans have paid closer attention to curling.
Fans tend to feel the same way:
While in Pyeongchang, Davis spent most of his time with men’s captain John Shuster. Shuster would go on to play hero for his squad and help bring home the gold. Davis had a funny observation in his interview with the CBC:
“Sometimes I wake up and go, ‘wow, I’m part of this sport that I knew nothing about,'” he said. But he knows that the team hadn’t medaled since 2006. And he predicted that they would win soon, saying: “Soon. Soon. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.”
Curling is foreign, but not far off from things that Americans understand. It resembles bowling, requires planning and execution, and shows that with a little help, sweeping really isn’t that bad, even if someone is yelling at you from the other end of the ice.
Add in Matt Hamilton’s mustache and there was a frenzied interest from U.S. fans during this Olympiad. The athletes did all the work, but Davis’ impact on the team, was real. Hopefully, for D.C. sports fans, he can be a good luck charm for the Redskins in 2018 as well.