For every successful athlete, there was someone who came before them to forge a path for their success.
When Vernon Davis entered the NFL in 2006, he had already watched guys like Shannon Sharpe and Kellen Winslow Sr. change the perception of tight ends around the league. Davis himself then further proved that defenses should fear tight ends in the passing game throughout his career, which just continued to set the stage for players who line up at the position today.
Now, as he watches guys like Travis Kelce carry the torch, the former San Francisco 49ers Pro Bowler is taking on a new challenge. In fact, he has gone from setting the stage to taking it in his new high-profile career.
Vernon Davis proved just how dangerous tight ends can be in the NFL
Davis was a big-time prospect in the 2006 NFL Draft when the 49ers selected him out of Maryland with the sixth overall pick.
He had a few decent seasons statistically to start his career but proved he was a force to be reckoned with in 2009. Davis caught 78 passes for 965 yards and an NFL-leading 13 touchdowns that year, which helped him earn his first Pro Bowl selection.
“If you have dedication, perseverance, and you’re really putting the time into the craft, you can go as far as you want to go,” Davis said in a recent interview with Sportscasting.
His consistency then helped him become an integral part of some stellar 49ers teams. San Francisco went to three consecutive NFC Championship Games from the 2011 campaign through 2013 with guys like Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Patrick Willis, and others. The team even reached the Super Bowl during the 2012 season, and Davis showed out on the NFL’s biggest stage, catching six passes for 104 yards.
“Making it there, it was a beautiful thing,” Davis said. “… But to get there and actually lose that game was very frustrating because all we wanted to do was come back with that trophy. Because it’s few and far between when it comes to making it to the Super Bowl.”
He later won a Super Bowl with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos
Despite the fact that Davis was a leader on those teams, the 49ers traded him to the Denver Broncos a few years later in 2015.
The former football star was justifiably upset about leaving the only franchise he had ever played for, but it paid off in the end, as he won the Super Bowl with Denver.
“In the beginning, I thought it was an issue because I felt like the team wanted to get rid of me after being there for 10 years, and they decided to ship me off,” he said. “But it turned out to be something truly amazing. I went to Denver, was a part of a great team with Peyton Manning leading the charge as quarterback. … It was a wonderful group of guys that I had an opportunity to play with. And being able to go from there and go back to San Jose and win the Super Bowl in the [49ers’ stadium], it was awesome, man. It was awesome. I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.”
His legacy lives on through guys like Travis Kelce
Davis spent his final four years playing for the Washington Football Team before retiring after the 2019 campaign.
But while his career is over, his legacy lives on through other tight ends.
“That’s the biggest thing for me is to help this position grow,” Travis Kelce said during the 2021 NFL Draft, per Chiefs Wire. “I didn’t have this success and I don’t have all the fun out there on the field without a guy like Tony Gonzalez or Vernon Davis.”
And for Davis, game recognizes game.
“I watch him; I’m a big fan of Travis Kelce,” he said to Sportscasting. “He’s a master at the tight end position; he’s figured out a way to really take ownership in that position, and I applaud him for that.”
Vernon Davis is now taking on a new challenge
As Davis watches guys like Kelce dominate the game today, he has transitioned into an entirely different career: acting.
Since retiring, Davis has appeared in multiple movies, including a couple with Bruce Willis called Gasoline Alley and A Day to Die. He is also currently working on a film with Morgan Freeman called Muti.
“I was an art studio major, so my time at the University of Maryland, I really discovered some things about myself,” he said. “… So, when I arrived in San Francisco, I enrolled myself in a class at The Shelton Theater of Art, and I just found a totally different level of passion for the world of acting, producing, and directing.”
Just as he did with his dedication to being a great tight end, Davis has taken that passion for film and run with it. The two-time Pro Bowler has founded two production companies and has produced a movie that will screen at the American Black Film Festival later this year called A Message From Brianna. He will also be a judge on Fox’s Domino Masters in 2022.
Sure, everyone knows Davis for his career as a stellar football player, but they will soon recognize his name for being a top personality in Hollywood as well.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference