Vernon Davis Earned $79 Million in the NFL but Hopes Future Generations Know Him for More Than Football

Having Vernon Davis starting at tight end went a long way in helping the San Francisco 49ers return to relevancy under Jim Harbaugh in the early 2010s.

While Rob Gronkowski easily topped the tight end rankings when healthy, Davis wasn’t far behind. He excelled as a receiver and more than held his own as a blocker, too. However, the former Pro Bowler has his eyes on people knowing him for more than catching touchdowns on national television.

Davis hopes he’ll be remembered more for his acting career than playing in the NFL

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis in 2013.
Former Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis wants to be known for acting instead of football | Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

If you ever run into Davis on the street, don’t ask him about playing with Colin Kaepernick or taking down Aaron Rodgers in the postseason. He doesn’t want to hear it. 

In a recent interview with ESPN, Davis opened up about his blossoming acting career. The 37-year-old has already worked with the likes of Bruce Willis and John Malkovich since retiring after the 2019 season. 

Davis is confident the work will speak for itself and change his reputation and legacy for years to come. 

“Over time, I’ll probably show up in so many projects that people will get used to seeing me as an actor and forget about me as a player. I think about watching Terry Crews and The Rock, and you see them, and you don’t think about them as athletes because you see them in so many different projects. That will probably happen with me.”

Vernon Davis

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a wrestling legend who also played defensive line at the University of Miami in the early 1990s. Crews played linebacker for several NFL teams from 1991-96. 

That may be difficult after Davis had an excellent NFL career

Davis has every right to hope his acting career will go so well that people only know him for his roles. Johnson did it, and he’s one of the most successful stars on the planet.

That won’t exactly be easy, however, given his productive NFL career. Even those who are too young to have watched Johnson wrestle in the 1990s are likely aware of his background in the WWF.

In his prime, Davis was a Pro Bowl tight end who scored 63 touchdowns in 14 seasons. He played in two Super Bowls and hauled in another seven postseason touchdowns. This is someone who earned nearly $79 million in the NFL for a reason.

It is easy to forget Crews played in the NFL because he was a backup who bounced around the league. And yes, much younger viewers who know Johnson from movies might not yet know that he wrestled. But even if he starts acting in blockbusters or even follows former running back Thomas Jones into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, people will always know Davis as the former 49ers tight end if they watched him. 

Davis has some interesting projects already lined up

After acting in some projects during his playing career, Davis is embracing the entertainment industry in retirement.

Davis and Willis teamed up for two movies, A Day to Die and Gasoline Alley, both of which will premiere in February 2022. The Pro Bowl tight end acted with Malkovich in The Chariot, a film that doesn’t have a release date. Davis said he also has three other films in post-production. 

“I get a project I like, I read it, and I read it and read it and fall in love with it,” Davis told ESPN.

If Davis intends to have people know him more for acting than football, he already has the right approach by taking as much work as possible. The Rock became the world’s highest-paid actor by working in everything, even if critics panned the movie. The less said about Baywatch, the better.

All contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.

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