| Written by Sally Scott-Moore | Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Demario Davis, removed his helmet on September 27, forgetting that he was wearing the headband emblazoned with the simple phrase: Man of God. In the weeks since the New Orleans Saints linebacker made the gaff, he has won the hearts of Christian football fans everywhere for his refreshing statement of faith. It didn’t take the National Football League (NFL) long to fine him approximately $7,000 for the unauthorized messaging, but Davis has parlayed the trouble into a $120,000 bonanza for a Mississippi hospital charity project.
The media buzz was immediate and in a world where fans are accustomed to vulgar language or players taking a knee to make a statement, Demario Davis took the high road. In a Fox News interview, he revealed he had been wearing the headband for some time but it was always under his helmet. Forgetting he was wearing it, the player removed his helmet to make some televised remarks on the field spurring immediate comment, both positive and negative, about this bold identity statement.
Two Sunday’s later, the linebacker also incurred another fine for ‘unnecessary roughness’ October 13, for a hard hit against Jaguar tight end, Geoff Swaim. Following the televised collision which downed Swaim on the field, Davis was seen immediately hitting his knees in prayer for the wounded player. “It’s a dangerous game,” said Davis. A clearly hurt Swaim remained on the field following the hit as Davis prayed for the opposing player.
“I just wanted to take time to pray for him, and my prayers and thoughts are still with him, hopefully, he is going to fully recover from that, because it’s such a fast game, and so much is happening so fast… I heard the crowd before I turned around and I was like ‘oh, that must’ve not been good’…and the first thing that I did was just to go and pray…and I think that respect is mutual across the field,” Davis explained.
The linebacker got deeply personal during many points of the Fox Nation segment, discussing his tumultuous childhood, his prison time and how it transformed his life, and his journey to finding God. He also said he holds no grudges against the NFL for the headband fine and reiterated his purpose to “glorify God” in everything he does. He described the hard collision and the $28,075 fine In a Fox Nation interview and also went into great detail on the happier resolution of the “Man of God” controversy.
Davis graciously noted he didn’t believe the NFL was persecuting him or singling him out for his faith. The league uniform policy clearly states that “personal messages” are prohibited during games. A first offense fine is $7,017 at a minimum, with a second infraction would incur a painful $14,037.
According to ESPN reporter Mike Triplett, Davis soon turned this controversial fine into an ongoing positive statement, “by channeling the outspoken reaction to his fine into a charitable cause.” Davis announced Tuesday, October 8 that at that writing he had raised more than $30,000 in sales of “Man of God,” “Woman of God” and “Child of God” headbands for St. Dominic Hospital in his home state of Mississippi. That figure has since grown to $120,000.
Davis won his NFL appeal of the fine, three weeks into the drama and announced on social media he would be donating that sum towards the St. Dominic Hospital charity, as well.
“Wearing his “Man of God” headband Davis stated, “That’s a huge win. We’ve been able to turn it into a positive and use it to raise fund for a hospital that’s trying to rebuild this emergency room. And just to have the support of the community—and pretty much nationwide—it’s been amazing.” He added cheerfully, “And then on top of that, being blessed to win the appeal and be able to take those funds that I was already counting as a loss and further contribute to the cause, it’s just a major blessing. And I don’t take that for granted.”
In the same ESPN article, Davis noted, “He has something special coming “for the children at the St. Louis King of France Catholic School in Metairie, who supported his cause by making their own handmade “Child of God” paper headbands this week.”
Davis has been open in all interviews, noting that he had been unaware that wearing the headband counted as a uniform violation. “The message is something that’s important to me so I’m just trying to figure how to turn it into a way He can get glory from it.”
Asked why he believes the NFL rescinded the fine, Davis shrugged, noting that his agents had a “list of six or seven points” that were discussed in the appeal. “Including not knowing about it, it not being something that was offensive, that I wasn’t going to wear it again, and that I was going to use it for charity. So, I think all of that played a part in it.”
Demario Davis, started his football career with the New York Jets before going to the New Orleans Saints. An outspoken Christian, Davis has been very vocal about his faith as well as his tough start.
He grew up in a small town outside of Jackson, Mississippi born to a mom who was 16 years old and a father who served in the Army. In a February 28 article by journalist Kesey Bolar in The Daily Signal, Davis noted that as a boy, he was surrounded by drugs, crime and gangs. It was his stellar football abilities which scored him a scholarship to Arkansas State University. As a freshman, Davis was nabbed for shoplifting at Walmart. He doesn’t deny the charge, but noted that the bond was set at $10,000 a sum that he- nor anyone else he knew could ever raise. Without the means to pay it, he was prison bound.
Davis’ football coach stepped forward and bailed him out. “Because I was an athlete, I was able to not go to jail.” Davis told the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). This was the moment Davis realized just how many people went to prison simply because they couldn’t pay the bill for the bail. Had his coach not stepped in, “I would have been one of them.”
He remains an advocate for criminal justice reform hoping to eliminate the cash bail system for non-violent offenders. The football player has supported the Trump Administration’s First Step Act issued earlier this year, which the administration said provides modest yet much-needed prison and sentencing reform modeled on successful reforms already passed in some states.
Davis returned to college when his legal woes were resolved with a fresh vision and new commitment to get his life on track. While at Arkansas State he met a Christian pastor who led him into a relationship with Christ- changing his life forever. Now, years after his brush with the law and with or without that headband, Demario Davis shines as an influential Man of God, successful both on and off the football field.