Vontae Davis says leaving Bills was 'therapeutic'
Veteran cornerback knew decision to walk out would upset teammates
Former NFL cornerback Vontae Davis knew walking away from the game he played since his childhood in Washington, D.C., was the right thing to do, and he told Domonique Foxworth of The Undefeated he looks back with no regrets.
"I feel great. I haven't felt like this in ... " Davis paused, "well, in my whole life."
At halftime of the Buffalo Bills' 31-20 loss on Sunday, Davis announced his retirement from the NFL. A two-time Pro Bowl selection and 10-year veteran, he signed a one-year contract with the Bills in the offseason.
"Leaving was therapeutic, bro," he told Foxworth. "I left everything the league wanted me to be, playing for my teammates while injured, the gladiator mentality, it all just popped. And when it popped, I just wanted to leave it all behind. So that's why I don't care what people say. That experience was personal and not meant for anyone else to understand. It was me cold turkey leaving behind an identity that I carried with me for so long."
Davis, 30, had taken himself out of the game at the end of the first half. Mind made up, he stayed in the locker room when his team went back out for the third quarter and left the stadium.
He said Sunday morning was a regular game-day morning. He didn't expect to retire when he arrived at the stadium. He said he knew it wouldn't sit well with some of his teammates, but it was the right thing for him.
"My intention was not to hurt my teammates," he said. "In that moment, my intuition was telling me I don't belong on that field anymore."
One teammate, safety Micah Hyde, said in an interview with ESPN.com that he had "never seen anything like it before."
"I was getting more details. I think, just with the loss, I don't want to say I didn't care, but I was more worried about how the game ended than what that situation was. I was thinking more about the team and the guys that were here rather than that whole story. But hearing more details , it's not ideal. I love Vontae as a person and what he's brought to this team from off-season training activity until [Sunday]. But I don't agree with the decision. Whatever the situation was, I don't agree with it. I feel like it kind of leaves a sour taste in my mouth, for sure."