The Return of Panthers' Thomas Davis - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

The Return of Panthers' Thomas Davis

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The Panthers may not have made it to the Super Bowl, but one of their stars is the best he's ever been.

"This last season was truly amazing," said Davis.

Last season was the Panthers linebacker finest season as a pro.

Davis ended the season with a career-high four sacks and 128 tackles for the league's second-ranked defense. The team captain was named Defensive Player of the year by his own teammates.

Not bad for a guy whose knee has been ripped apart three times.

"I'm just trying to be there for some of these guys and lead them in a positive way," said Davis.

So when Davis wasn't given serious consideration for the NFL's comeback player of the year two years ago after coming back from three ACL surgeries on the same knee you can bet he was bothered.

"I felt like that I was more than capable of being selected and should have been there but the politics of this league stuff like that happens all the time and as players you can't get caught up in it," said Thomas.

But one thing he does get caught up in, Davis' Defending Dreams Foundation.

With his wife Kelly, Davis' foundation promotes programs that enhance the lives of more than 2,000 underprivileged children and their families.

And this is just in Charlotte. He also invested $60,000 to build a  playground in his hometown of Shellman, Georgia.

"For me to be able to go back and put the playground and really see the excitement on not only the kids faces but the parents faces and knowing that it means the world to them, that's what it's all about. That's why we do what we do."

Davis is one of the pro athletes who actually gets it.

"As a leader of the team I try to take advantage of everything that's been given to me. I learned a lot from some of the leaders we had on the team when I first came in."

And after nine years, the NFL and his teammates nominated him for his biggest accomplishment - the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

The award is given for excellence off the field.

"The work that we do in this community that we do with my leadership academy right now we do it because we genuinely care about these kids."

And Charlotte cares about Thomas Davis.

"I know that one day my day will come that I will no longer be a Carolina Panthers football player."

We're not ready to see him go but when that day does come, Thomas Davis hopes to stay in Charlotte and find a position at the stadium to continue to work as a Panther.

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