• NFL ‘Man of God’ Models Transformative Way to Respond to Rotten Situations

    Surge Summary: The NFL tried to fine New Orleans Saints’ Demario Davis for his “Man of God” headband. The devout Christian linebacker accepted the censure with a humble attitude, but the situation was dramatically – redemptively even — turned around. The whole situation is an accurate representation of Davis’ approach to his life and faith.

    In late September, the New Orleans Saints Demario Davis was fined $7,017 by the NFL. His infraction? Uniform violation. The specifics? Surprising to the defensive star:

    Yahoo Sports Terez Paylor quotes him:

    “I was like, why did I get fined?” Davis told Yahoo Sports on Friday. “And they were like, it was a fine for my headband. And I was like, ‘What? I got fined for that?'”

    Davis’ custom gold headband — inscribed with “Man of God” in large block letters — has special meaning for the 30-year-old linebacker, a deeply religious man with a track record of good works and social consciousness as long as his mounting on-field accomplishments.

    Aware of the League’s strict code – players are prohibited from “wearing, displaying, or otherwise conveying personal messages” during game day events — he was still taken aback for being tagged over the headband.

    “I had been wearing it all year, even since the preseason,” Davis recalled with a chuckle. “And I was like, ‘Yo, that’s crazy that I just got fined for repping what I believe in.’”

    Davis says he didn’t necessarily feel he was being slighted by the NFL for the fine — he thinks it was just enforcing the policy that was in place. Nevertheless, he went to his agent, who told him they could appeal on the grounds Davis didn’t fully understand the rule and the headband wasn’t visible on the field. His agent also asked Davis if he planned on wearing it again, to which Davis said he did not, since he wasn’t intentionally trying to buck the rule.

    So, on top of displaying a commendable passion for his Christian faith, we can credit Davis for demonstrating a model attitude toward the whole kerfuffle. No whining from him, no pleading the victimhood card. Instead, a simple decision to adjust his behavior and play on.

    “But,” writes Paylor, “something funny happened before the appeal was ruled upon:

    [T]he reason for Davis’ fine went viral. Fans caped for his cause, the NFL endured criticism, and the support Davis got on social media — and via snail mail — was ridiculous.

    He believes that vast outpouring of fan support played a role in the league’s eventual early-October decision to vacate the fine. That reversal wasn’t something Davis was expecting.

    “Yeah, most times they don’t overturn something like that,” Davis said. “So I just like to think that was the power of God working behind the scenes, man.”

    So, typical of this gridiron professional, he is now moving forward, eyeballing fresh platforms for expressing His commitment to Christ.

    Davis sensed an opportunity to back up the headband’s meaning through his actions. So he donated the entirety of the $7,017 fine, plus the $30,000 generated from the sale of the $25 headbands on his Instagram page to St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi, where his mother once worked.

    Two months later, Davis says he has sold nearly 9,000 headbands, totaling nearly $150,000 in profit which — when you consider the equal-matching grant given to the hospital, which is hoping to expand its emergency department — brings the total donations to a mind-blowing $300,000.

    “It’s crazy, it’s amazing,” Davis told Yahoo Sports, shaking his head at his locker on Friday. “God is good. Three-hundred thousand dollars, man? Come on, man!”

    In retrospect, Davis realizes he shouldn’t be surprised at the way this has turned out.

    “That’s just the power of God, man — he takes negative situations and use them for positives,” Davis said. “You notice like, people in the bible — God doesn’t look for the best or the biggest; he looks for the person who has been counted out. God is the king of taking bad situations and turning that into a positive.”

    The radical transformation from “bad” to “good” is a phenomenon with which the Mississippi native can identify very personally.

    In his youth, he struggled with marijuana and alcohol, and found himself in jail for three days a decade ago as a freshman at Arkansas State after an arrest for stealing groceries from a Walmart. Davis’ college coach gave him another chance, and it was an ensuing conversation with the team chaplain that helped him look at his life differently.

    “He helped me understand that we are all born with a bad heart, and that ruined my misconception we all have a good heart,” Davis said. “Like, we all like to think we’re good people at the end of the day, but what I realized is, no, we’re all messing up and doing bad stuff because we’re really bad and we need a new heart. But God will give you that.”

    Since then, Davis says he has devoted his life to, in his words, “being a billboard for Christ” with his actions.

    It’s a pledge which has found outlet in consistent involvement with causes he feels are important, as well as other charitable efforts. One example would be

    the nonprofit he started with his wife in 2013 called “Devoted Dreamers,” which is dedicated to giving kids the tools they need to be successful spiritually, mentally and physically.

    “I remember coming up, the guy I looked up to was selling drugs, chasing girls, trying to prove they were the baddest, and that’s the type of things that I chased after,” Davis said. “So [I want] to show them, man, that you can still be cool and relevant and love God, love your family, be an upstanding man in the community and play ball and not feel like that’s corny. Giving them something positive to emulate, that’s what it’s about.”

    Davis confesses his celebrity status has produced a situation in which folks on the New Orleans street will periodically approach him.

    “They’ll be like ‘Oh man, that’s the man of God right there!'” Davis recalled with a laugh. “That happens all the time, and they’ll ask me where they can get the headbands.”

    Davis, a team captain for the Saints, loves the fact that people recognize him for being associated with his faith. But it’s a position that comes with a great sense of responsibility.

    “It helps keep you accountable,” Davis said.

    He no longer sports the “Man of God” headband on the field – again, abiding by NFL prohibition – though he’s committed to always have something on his body that reminds him of his purpose: a black rubber “Man of God” wristband, for instance, and/or a cross around his neck.

    Davis insists his faith is not about objects, it’s about acts. He figures that if “Man of God” is written on his forehead by the way he lives his life, he doesn’t even have to rep the headband on the field for people to know what he’s about.

    “I’mma rep God by action,” Davis said. “People know me, they know I’m a man of God, and I think that’s the most important branding. Anybody can put a headband on, anybody can wear a cross or some type of object, but when it’s written on your heart, when it’s written on your body without you even having to say anything, people can see it. And I think that’s the most important thing.”

    Wow. Man of integrity. Man of action. “Man of God.”

    H/T: Yahoo Sports/Terez Paylor

    Image: Screen Shot; Cox Sports Network; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFms2ZZvFwY

     


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