Max Henson Staff Writer
CHARLOTTE – Linebacker Thomas Davis has come back from three consecutive season-ending injuries to make an impact for the Panthers defense and he’s making just as much of an impact with his charitable work off the field.
Davis has been chosen as the Panthers nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, given annually to a player for his community service activities as well as his excellence on the field.
“It is definitely a huge honor,” Davis said. “To receive the (nomination) here on this team you have to be voted on by your teammates. I think they recognize all the work that we do in the community with my foundation. But it’s not the reason we do it. We do it because we want to make a difference and impact the lives of children.”
With the help of his wife, Davis runs the Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to providing and promoting programs that enhance the quality of life for underprivileged children and their families.
Davis is also a regular participant at team-organized community events and is involved with the American Heart Association, hunger relief efforts, Levine Children’s Hospital and Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“Thomas has a very unselfish approach to the people in this community and to this team,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “What he’s given us in the last few years is a great example of somebody who won’t quit. That rings true for who he is as a person.”
The Walter Payton Man of the Year award has particularly special meaning for Rivera, who is proud to say he was Payton’s teammate in Chicago.
“The award is named after Walter Payton for a reason,” Rivera said. “Walter was a very generous and giving person in the community of Chicago. During his dying days, he got involved with the organ donation program and that was huge. He passed and they kept the legacy going in Chicago.
“The one thing he did – it didn’t matter if you were a first round pick, a starter or a free agent backup – he treated you the same and he treated your family as if he knew them forever. He was just that kind of guy.”
INJURY UPDATE: Three starters who did not play in last week’s game against the Chargers — running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle), defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (wrist) and center Geoff Hangartner (foot) – did not participate in Monday’s practice.
“Jonathan actually did a lot of work yesterday. He was a little bit sore today so we backed off,” Rivera said. “Dwan took the walk through reps.”
Brandon LaFell, who played “about 20 snaps” at San Diego despite a toe injury, was also held out.
“We’re just going to be cautious with him as we go forward,” Rivera said. “No (setbacks),”
Linebacker James Anderson (back) participated fully after being inactive against the Chargers.