Carolina Panthers legend Thomas Davis tells story of breaking arm, playing in Super Bowl two weeks later

Davis spoke with Master Tesfatsion of Bleacher Report’s “Untold Stories” series about his experience after the 2015 NFC Championship game.
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 5:35 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Carolina Panthers fan-favorite linebacker Thomas Davis recently talked with Bleacher Report about the time he broke his arm, got surgery the next morning then played in the Super Bowl all within two weeks.

Davis spoke with Master Tesfatsion of Bleacher Report’s “Untold Stories” series about his experience after the 2015 NFC Championship game.

The now-retired star linebacker said he broke his arm in the NFC title game and decided to get surgery the next morning, hours after the game was over.

He played in Super Bowl 50 two weeks later.

Davis told the story while playing pool with Master Tesfatsion, saying he played eight different positions per game in high school. Through a 16-season career, Davis overcame three consecutive ACL surgeries in three straight seasons and continued playing.

Davis detailed what happened in the 2015 NFC Championship game when the Carolina Panthers defeated the Arizona Cardinals.

“In the second quarter - going to make a tackle against the tight end - me and Luke [Kuechly] are closing in on him,” Davis said. “And he jumps up, and the first thing I do is put my arm out. And his knee caught my arm, and my arm lost that battle. I broke my arm.”

After realizing he broke his arm, Davis went on to talk about the process of speaking with trainers to figure out what to do next.

“Trainers come out and ask me ‘What are you thinking?’ I’m like ‘Man it’s broken,’” Davis said. “We go in the back and everything we know about injuries and know about having broken bones - there’s no way that in two weeks I’m gonna be able to play in the Super Bowl after breaking my arm.”

With doubt and uncertainty clouding the possibilities of his availability in the Super Bowl, doctors said something to Davis that sparked the motivation he needed to be able to make it back in two weeks.

“But then we go in at halftime, look at it and they say ‘Look we can do surgery at 6 in the morning and you can play in the Super Bowl but it’s really going to come down to a pain tolerance of whether or not you can play the whole game,” Davis said.


“That’s all I needed to hear,” Davis said.

So the next morning, Davis had surgery in Charlotte and he described the rehab process over the next two weeks.

“The portion that they cut into was really what controlled the grip. That was the hardest thing I had to work through over the course of those two weeks to get the grip strength back,” Davis said.

And what many would think is impossible, happened.

“We go from that doubt and that uncertainty of being able to play in that Super Bowl to not missing a snap - which is unheard of,” Davis said. “Once that opportunity presented itself, I’m out there, I’m playing in this game and we just gonna see what happens.”

Davis recorded seven tackles in the Panthers’ 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.

Davis spent 14 seasons with the Carolina Panthers. On March 11, 2021, Davis signed a one-day contract and retired as a Panther, ending a 16-year NFL career.

Davis, often referred to as “TD” is at or near the top of many different all-time statistical categories for the franchise. Davis left the team as the Panthers’ all-time tackles leader with 1,258. He had seven 100-tackle campaigns.

The 2005 first-round draft pick out of Georgia made three Pro Bowls with the Panthers and was an All-Pro in 2015 during the 15-1 Panthers Super Bowl run.

Davis had 1,216 tackles, including 90 for loss, 29 sacks, 18 forced fumbles and 13 interceptions in his career. He also was the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year.

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