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Vontae Davis retiring from Bills at halftime just makes him look like a sore loser

September 17, 2018

Quitting is absolutely, positively the best course of action you can take in many instances.

If you have a habit of sucking lit sticks of tobacco, your loved ones will throw a party if you stop. The same is true if you routinely threaten the family’s stability by wagering and losing large chunks of your paycheck. Ditto if you’re secretly engaging in activities that, once uncovered, will lead to criminal charges and prison sentences.

Find yourself reacting violently and getting physical when arguing with your spouse? Quit. Eating yourself to death as your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure go sky high? Quit. Moving from use to abuse in the consumption of alcohol, painkillers or other drugs? Quit.

Play football and enter halftime with your team trailing, 28-6?

Uh, no, that is NOT the time to announce you’re done.

“This isn’t how I pictured retiring from the NFL,” Buffalo Bills cornerback Vontae Davis said in a statement Sunday night after he didn’t return for the second half of Sunday’s 31-20 loss against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers. He put on his street clothes and left the stadium before the game ended.

“In my 10th NFL season, I have been doing what my body has been programmed to do: Get ready to play on game day,” he said. “But today on the field, reality hit me fast and hard: I shouldn’t be out there anymore.”

I bet he would’ve postponed reality if the Bills were visiting the Chargers, 3,000 miles away.

Jumping in your car and driving home is a lot easier than making your way to LAX for an impromptu cross-country flight. The only nonstop option would’ve been with JetBlue at 10:28 p.m. That’s a long time to sit around and wait while you’re skewered and roasted like Peruvian chicken.

The scoreboard also plays a factor. Davis could’ve sold his spontaneity better if the Bills were leading by 22 points, not trailing by that margin. Under those circumstances, the D.C. native might’ve been viewed as a principled quitter.

Instead, he looks like a sore loser who grew weary of playing for a sorry team.

“I meant no disrespect to my teammates and coaches,” he said. “But I hold myself to a standard. Mentally, I always expect myself to play at a high level. But physically, I know today that isn’t possible, and I had an honest moment with myself. While I was on the field, I just didn’t feel right, and I told the coaches, ‘I’m not feeling like myself.’”

Then stay on the sidelines, sir, in uniform.

Stick with your co-workers amid difficulty. Contribute to the strategy sessions. Impart knowledge gained over 10 seasons. Even if you don’t feel like yourself and can’t play, be a good teammate and encourage the others.

Davis continued: “I also wondered: Do I want to keep sacrificing? And truthfully, I do not because the season is long, and it’s more important for me and my family to walk away healthy than to willfully embrace the warrior mentality and limp away too late.”

I have to throw a flag right there. Call it “unnecessary bluffing.”

Davis clearly struggled with health since Miami made him a first-round pick in the 2009 draft. He has endured multiple surgeries and missed most of last year with a serious groin injury. He has been slow to recover and was inactive for the opener at Baltimore, but he started Sunday’s game.

Everything was fine as he entered the locker room for halftime. He said he informed the coaches earlier that he felt unfit to continue playing. I’m sure if he insisted, they wouldn’t put him back in the game.

So he could’ve eaten his orange slices, jogged out with his teammates, and stayed on the bench, never to play another down. There would be no danger of limping from the game, barring an unfortunate sideline collision.

“This was an overwhelming decision,” Davis said, “but I’m at peace with myself and my family.”

But not so much with his former teammates.

“I think I did lose a little respect for him as a man,” nine-year veteran safety Rafael Bush told reporters. “In this game, we’re always taught to fight to the end, and for you to give up on your teammates in the middle of the game, I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, a 12-year NFL veteran, was similarly flabbergasted that Davis couldn’t stick it out for another 30 minutes of football. “Never seen it,” Alexander said, “Pop Warner, high school, college, pros, never heard of it, never seen it. Completely disrespectful to his teammates. He didn’t say nothing to nobody. They said he’s not coming out, he retired. That’s it.”

Retirement wasn’t going anywhere. It would’ve been waiting for Davis when time ran out in the fourth quarter. Then he could’ve made his announcement with dignity instead of slinking out of the stadium.

There’s no shame in Davis quitting.

But there’s no class in the way he did it.

Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.

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