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Since Cam Newton and Russell Wilson took over their respective teams a year apart from each other , they have played seven times. That includes twice in the playoffs. Wilson leads the series 5-2. This game might as well have been scheduled for Thanksgiving since the Seahawks and the Panthers are cousins who only see each other about once a year.The younger cousin, in this case, holds a historical edge but that doesn’t mean the teams are that different. Both are led by defensive minded head coaches who struggle to run the ball as successfully as they would like. Both are captained by mobile quarterbacks who left college with equal measures of talent and doubt. Neither quarterback won a national championship for NC State. This list is virtually endless.The teams don’t just look alike, they play alike and the play like each other’s closer relatives. Bobby Wagner is a poor man’s Luke Kuechly, Eric Reid used to be the Seahawks’ neighbor, and both teams are limping into the wild card race this season off of a middling 2-2 stretch over their past four games. Their defenses both lit up the league with turnovers to start the season and have struggled to generate more in recent weeks. The Seahawks got swept this year by their outrageously productive division rival, the Los Angeles Rams. The Panthers haven’t technically played the Saints yet, but they aren’t kidding anybody who isn’t kidding themselves. Another endless list.The only real difference is that Wilson gets more credit for his work from the national media (though they still reduce a lot of his offensive success to option football, just like with Cam). I think that is just because he fits in the same box as Drew Brees, so to speak. The family resemblance is striking. Brees and Wilson both have higher than expected ceilings, compared to their draft profiles, and a Super Bowl victory under their belts. That can leave the older cousin here feeling a little chippy.There is blood between these teams, and national slights besides, but does that matter? Absolutely. The Panthers have looked disinterested in playing successful football for two weeks now. They still have what can only be described as an outside shot at the play offs in spite of their current position as the 5th seed in the NFC. They need to win every game remaining on their schedule that isn’t the Saints to keep that spot and they are going to have to fight some good teams to do it. That starts with the Seahawks. If they can’t get it up for a team that has bloodied their nose more than once in recent memory then they are lost in more ways than one. Oh... man. I knew this day would come , but I always hoped it would come off the heels of a Super Bowl victory, or something that truly capped off and encapsulated what Thomas Davis fought so hard to make an incredible career. Instead, it comes on the back of a disappointing 7-9 season where the Panthers started off hot but quickly fizzled out. But Thomas Davis’ career has never been about storybook endings, national media attention, or Hall of Fame accolades. Davis’ career has always about being overlooked, undervalued, or on his last leg. Thomas Davis didn’t just Keep Pounding, he kicked the damn door down.I wrote this about Thomas Davis back in 2013, following a return season where he beat so many odds and managed to return following 3 ACL tears. Hopefully, you read it at the time, but if you didn’t, here are the cliff notes.I didn’t write that because I wanted any kind of attention, or wanted to capitalize on what turned out to be an amazing comeback for Davis, I wrote it because I truly believed Davis deserved the comeback player of the year award. And you know what? This dude deserves comeback player of the century in the NFL.Ever since that season , Thomas Davis has played at an elite level for an outside linebacker in his late 20s-to-early-30s, a time where most linebackers start to fall off. But for Davis, he didn’t just play over his age, he played over his body. He played at a higher level from 2014-2017 than any of us could ever imagine. He became one part of arguably the best linebacker tandem in modern football with Luke Kuechly, and in doing so finally realized some of the accolades he always deserved. Super Bowls, Pro Bowls, All Pro honors, national media attention for the first time in his career. Davis didn’t just return, he ARRIVED.If you handed me a textbook and asked me to look up what “linebacker play” would look like, I’d expect to see a picture (or a gif in the internet age) of Thomas Davis. He tackled the right way, he played coverage better than most in the league. Davis was a force every time he took the field, whether it was a close game, a blowout win, or a blowout loss. I can’t think of many times where I saw Thomas Davis and thought to myself “man , he really didn’t give his all on that play.”Thomas Davis is a player I personally invested in, because as a fan I went through that injury riddled journey, and was rewarded with high level football, just like he was. Seeing him pick off passes to seal important games or blast a running back in the hole to force a fumble at a crucial moment became all the more special because THOMAS FREAKING DAVIS did it. And it is really a shame he didn’t get a chance to go out on top, because he deserved to just like many of the high level players who came before him. I once said that Thomas Davis symbolized “Keep Pounding”, and that he earned his stripe. Now, I believe Thomas Davis earned himself a damn statue.Davis taught me, personally, not just to Keep Pounding, throughout life and it’s struggles. He taught me that once you’ve gotten yourself out from underneath those struggles, to push yourself even further than simply being past them. We all have our struggles, whether it be work, life, love , family, they all cause us pain and they all can push us down to rock bottom. While the Keep Pounding moniker certainly applies to constantly honing your craft, yourself, and your life, Thomas Davis did it better. He didn’t just Keep Pounding, he kept excelling. Davis is a shining example of what a person can accomplish when they apply themselves the same way, with the same intensity, when things are bad, AND when they are good. Davis taught me not to simply accept getting over the hump, but be a better person on the other side once you get there.Don’t thank us fans for everything, Thomas. Thank YOU, for the memories, and the lessons we can learn.
Posted in Default Category on June 01 at 07:43 AM

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