In a recent episode of the Saints Podcast presented by SeatGeek, New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis joined the show to discuss his recent Bart Starr Award, share a recap of the 2020 NFL season for him on and off the field as well as talk about his community-based foundations and their plans for the offseason.
Listen to the full podcast interview below:
Welcome into the New Orleans Saints Podcast presented by SeatGeek. I'm Caroline Gonzalez. And on today's show, we are welcomed on by Saints linebacker Demario Davis. Of course, he's more than just a linebacker for the New Orleans Saints. He was the Saints Man of the Year, which made him a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. He was also the Bart Starr Award recipient for this year. But more than all of that he is a father. He is a leader on the New Orleans Saints. And he's so much more, Demario, thanks for joining us.
"Thank you, Caroline. Always a pleasure to be on with you."
What an intro right? I just had to go through the full gauntlet of all of the things that you've done. Only in this year, which seems kind of crazy. But before we get into that, and you're not allowed to answer you know, anything work-related in this question, What does Demario Davis do for fun in his free time?
"Why can't I say anything work-related? Because work is fun to me. I enjoy it. Do what you love, love what you do. I'm really spending time with my wife. Time with my kids. You know, my kids are all funny. My son is just like me except he's a brainiac. So I can just sit and have conversations with him all day long. You know, my third child is a diva and so she just likes to perform all day long. And then my oldest, you know, that's, that's daddy's little girl. So she just likes to go on a date to hang out. And then my youngest daughter, she's a handful like everybody knows her story. She's a cancer survivor, but she's a trooper. She got the most energy in the house. And she's a boss. Like, we just, we had to take her to Nashville for some appointments. And it was just me, her and mom. And like, she walked us by herself. It was almost like we didn't have four kids and we weren't experienced. I mean, I enjoy just being with my family. I'm a family guy. I watch a lot of movies, I read a lot of books. So like, right now, I'm caught up in like, I'm late to it. I'm watching 'Vikings,' you know, and so like, other than that, I mean, you know, life's cool. I just, you know, I like helping people. I like being with family."
And, you know, we of course want to highlight all the tremendous work that you've done, but I feel like, you know, we constantly talked about that and we don't know you as a person as much as Saints fans would want to. So if you like movies, give me your top two actors.
"Oh, top two actors. That's tough. I like a lot of people in general. Gerard Butler is one of my favorites. OK. '300' he's one of my favorite. Probably, of like, all time? That's tough. I mean, I like a lot of people. I like Denzel (Washington) and I like Idris Elba. But all time? Probably either Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy. I mean, I mean, they just got a huge Rolodex. Right? So I mean, I'm a fan of movies, you know, and so I don't know if I have a favorite actor as much as I have favorite films."
I watched 'Mo' Better Blues' for the first time this past weekend as my first time familiarizing myself with some of the Spike Lee movies but OK definitely have to agree with the Denzel nomination.
"You've seen 'Do The Right Thing' right?
I've seen 'Do The Right Thing'. I've seen 'School Daze'.
Trying to give myself a little movie-cation there Demario. All right, let's get into things here. So you go through so many things not only during the season, but in offseason. You have your Devoted Dreamers, you have Shield One, that of course we're going to get into. How do you stay on top of everything not only because you know you have these foundations, but you also like you said, like you mentioned you have your family? You have an NFL career which takes up enough time as it is.
"I think it's a combination of No. 1, probably about five years ago, my mom like sat me down and made me like get a schedule and start to use a calendar and now like that's like my best friend. I keep my calendar through the season, offseason I'd never go anywhere without my calendar and that, like helps keep me on track. You know, I have a good team around me. People who keep me updated, like, let me know where I need to be so that I don't miss anything. I have a very, very understanding wife. And that makes all the difference in the world like she, we're always on the same page. And when we're not on the same page, like she lets me know, like, OK, you slow down, we need to talk about a few things. But she's very understanding and we have, we have a great communication. And so she makes sure that no matter what I'm doing, whether it's work-related or I'm out trying to save the world, she makes sure that we get our time. She makes sure that I give time to the kids. You know, and make sure that we take care of home before we go out. And so I think that part helps. But most of all, I think it's just grace from the man above. He gives a lot of grace because I don't, a lot of times I look up and I don't even understand how I do so much stuff. And it doesn't feel a lot when I do it. But when I look back on, it's like, oh, wow, that was a lot. And I think he's just because he gives me the grace to go and have the energy to do it and be in the moment when I'm there. But also have the balance to make sure I'm juggling things that are going on outside the home with things that are going on inside."
And how is your youngest daughter? I wanted to ask that I know you mentioned it a little bit. Y'all went to an appointment. But how is she doing?
"She's doing good. She's really good. She's 100 percent healthy baby. You know, we just have to do follow-up check-ins and appointments. And she's 100. Full of life and full of energy. She keeps you on your toes."
Demario, you are a man of faith, a man of God. You've had headbands, you've you know, started foundations off of that. How do you feel like your faith has overlapped with who you are in the locker room as a leader?
"I think my faith is foundational to everything that I do. It's so, somebody explained to me is like, God isn't just the most important thing in your life, like he is your life and everything from your life extends from him. So I'm always focused on how can I get closer to God. And then, so like, because I'm trying to get closer to God, that changes how I am in my marriage, it changes how I am as a father, it changes how I interact with my teammates, it changes how I interact with the community. So my faith is so central to everything that that is my life. And I think that's why my teammates respect me. That's why my teammates know that they can confide in me, they know they're gonna get the same person every single day. They know I'm going to stand on truth. They know I'm going to tell them the truth. They know, even though I'm a man of faith, that I'm never going to approach them in a judgmental way. You know, at the end of the day, like we are all human beings. We are all imperfect, and we are just trying to find a way. But they know that I'm going to be steady, I'm not going to be changing on him, I'm gonna be the same person I am the first day that they meet me to, you know, years down the line. And so I think people appreciate that. And I wouldn't be able to have that steadiness if I didn't have a steadiness, which is my faith. Like God is unchanging, you know, it's solid ground. It tells us in the Bible, like storms are gonna come, you can build your house on rock, you can build your house on sand. And so God is steady. And so because I'm standing on something steady, it gives me something to give my teammates and people I interact with just like I'm gonna be a steady person, because I'm standing on something steady. And people need that."
We all need that friend who are gonna tell us how it is. And it seems like you're that person in the locker room. But Demario, you were the Bart Star Award recipient this year, which is given annually to a player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community. So you could just take the first 15 minutes or 10 minutes of our conversation and you know, kind of that exemplifies why you are this recipient of that award. But can you tell us kind of what that process was like for you and your reaction when you found out that you were the winner?
"Well, first of all, I didn't realize I was nominated. I didn't know that it was even going on. So when they called my phone, I was actually surprised because they had told my wife about it and she didn't tell me. I was getting on another call and I think Evan had told me he had a media day and that's what I was getting on for and so they had set me up and I was total in total shock. I never do anything for accolades or awards. Except I mean football because I want the accolades. I want the championships, I want the recognition. But never in terms of serving other people or serving humanity. That's just what we're supposed to do. So I never did that for an accolade or a trophy. It's an honor to be nominated for Man of the Year, nominated for Bart Starr, win the Bart Starr. But I've never done it for those accolades. But it was a tremendous honor and it's a tremendous honor because you know, you're voted on by your peers, and you never really know how people view you. You can assume their view and you can try to present yourself in a certain way hoping to be received in that. But you never know how your peers really view you. And so to know, like all the people, players, its a lot of great players across the league who do a lot of great things for communities and great leaders in locker room, great leaders in their home. You know, it really is a great fraternity to be a part of, there's a lot of great guys. And so to be the one guy out of all those people that, that means a lot to me, not an aspect of, you know, like, I'm the one person that got it, but it's in the midst of this great group, they see you in this light. And so like that was great. And then to be nominated by I realized on the phone call that was nominated by Drew Brees, somebody that I view in that regard, who's a leader in the locker room, a leader in his family and leader in the community. Somebody that, you know, I feel like sets a great example that all players could look to emulate that fact that he nominated me, being in a locker room for him three years was just amazing. You know, it's something I don't take for granted. And so definitely something that I'll never forget."
"I never do anything for accolades or awards. Except I mean football because I want the accolades. I want the championships, I want the recognition. But never in terms of serving other people or serving humanity. That's just what we're supposed to do." Demario Davis
And all of your teammates nominated you as the Saints Man of the Year. You were a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Unfortunately, didn't win it. Russell Wilson ended up winning it. But do you take that as a challenge, Demario? Do you take that as OK, well, I have to do more. Because I know I personally voted for you about 20 times on Twitter. And I'm upset that that didn't go through. But do you take that personally as a challenge for you
"Definitely not. Definitely not. I mean, other guys, when they don't select me for the Pro Bowl, I take that personally. Walter Payton Man of the Year, not so much because you know, serving humanity is not about that. Like, yes, we should be like the Bible tells us, 'He who is last here will be first in the kingdom.' Like, we should be a competition to see who can out serve the next person. That's biblical. But it's not a competition for recognition. Like, I view it as my reward is in Heaven. Like I'm doing it for the kingdom. I'm not doing it for man to recognize me. You know, if somebody was to give me a Nobel Peace Prize for what I'm doing, it's not going to change whether I'm going to do it or not. And so I think it was amazing to be nominated on our team, because we have so many great guys. I mean, Thomas, Terron, Drew, Craig, Malcolm Jenkins, I mean, just so- Cameron Jordan. So many guys who do a ton of ton of work in the community. So to be nominated on this team means a lot, right? And so, um, and then when you look at the guys, and what they're doing across the league. Guys such as Travis Kelce, Russell Wilson. All those guys Mychal Kendricks. Guys that are doing a lot of great work in a lot of great places. Man, let's, let's face it, our country needs a lot of help. There's a lot of things going on. It's going to take everybody, so anybody that's throwing a hat in the fight, you know, like, that's big, and I applaud it, and I celebrate it. And so for Russell to win it, that's nothing short of amazing. I don't take that as a personal challenge as in, like, I feel slighted because I didn't win, because I never was trying to win an award for recognition for service. That's what we supposed to do. We human beings, if you see your neighbors struggling, you know, you're supposed to do something. It's just like, you pass people on the side of street, they're just human beings. We don't know what situations caused them to be in that situation. And it could very easily be you. I think that's the part that we have to make sure that we stay attached to, that anybody going through some type of oppression, injustice or having lack of that could very easily be you. Like is, there's nothing special about you that's preventing you from that happening. I mean, nobody thought in one moment, our whole world would be flipped upside down. Right? That's what it means to be human, we only in control of so much. And so that's why we have to look out for the people that are beside us, that's just a responsibility, that's not for a pat on the back. That's not for somebody to come give you a check. That's just what you're supposed to do. Almost like, you know, if your child is crying, it's your responsibility to get a child to bottle. You have a responsibility to humanity, you know, and so I think I take that seriously. I take a lot of pride in that. And I try to lead by example. And so I think there are a lot of guys that are doing that as well. And so I applaud it all."
Do you understand though, or do you, I guess, comprehend the fact that you are so unique in that way that you respond to that call of action with such force and you don't just do one thing, and then forget about it, you do thing after thing after thing and then you build off of all of those things. Like that's so unique and so rare, like do you take time to kind of soak that in the fact that you're able to do all of that and respond to that call to action?
"No, I mean, it never hits me that that is unique, because it is It feels so normal to me. Like it feels just like, you know, it's almost like for us to celebrate Drew Brees throwing a touchdown. That's what Drew Brees does, he throws touchdowns. At that point, it just becomes normal. And so I'm not Drew and looking like, 'Oh, yeah, y'all see that touchdown out there?' You know, it's like, I don't look at it like that. I've never felt it as unique for me to, you know, go to plant, they don't have water. Like, and they're acting like the water crisis is over. Hm, somebody needs to go out here and like, let the world know, like, there's still the water crisis. You know, go to Minnesota, ground zero. I'm pretty sure if the people are riding in the street, they're more upset than just about George Floyd being murdered. Probably more issues. Let's go out here and see what's going on. And we go out there and say, 'Oh, there's a whole lot going on. OK, let's use our platform to bring recognition to that.' It's just that we have these platforms, and we're capable of doing so much. Like why not? And I take on the mentality of, if I don't, then who will? And if not now, then when? You know, and so we can always say like, 'Oh, I'll do that later, or when I'm done playing or, you know, in a couple of weeks.' But we're not promised tomorrow. And you can always look around and say like this needs to change, this needs to change. But what if you're the only person that see that, that knows that needs to change? Or that's willing to do something about it. And so if you don't do it, then it's gonna stay the same. And that's just the mentality that I take. And hopefully along the way that inspires people to, if you feel something, do something. Like everybody can play a part, we all see the things that are going on in the world, and we all feel something, okay, like, take that feeling and turn it into action. Like I'm showing you like it's possible, and it doesn't take a ton of resources and a huge platform, like everybody can do something. Because, you know, it's the story of the starfish that I like to share, like a man was throwing starfish into the water like they were, he thought they were gonna, they were gonna, like die. And so he was just tossing them back in the water. And a man was like, You never gonna be able to save all of them. And he just took them one by one, like, I saved that one. I saved that one. I saved that one. And that's how people need to really look at help. Like, can you help one person like you are helping them. Like that's change. You're changing their situation. And that's how we really, ultimately, I think we can all comprehensively or collectively grasp that, like, we're gonna be better for it."
Well, you rose to the challenge recently with your foundation's Shield One. What is it? How did it begin? Who does it benefit? Can you tell us about Shield One?
"Yeah, so Shield One is essentially started by Josh, and I. Josh Norman and I. And early on in the process, we brought Drew Brees on, and got some other players that are getting engaged with it as well. But Josh and I have been doing this for a while. And it's really just a crisis response organization. You know, a crisis that happened all the time, like, you know, we had at the border. So Josh and I went down there. And we had was going on in Flint (Mich.). So Josh, and I went out there. Then when everybody was marching in the streets last year, Josh and I went to five different cities. And what we realized in all these places is kind of the same mechanism of a problem. There are people in it that are on the ground, people kind of impoverished situations that don't have access to resources. And the politicians in the area and legislators are kind of disconnected from the people. And so there's just a breakdown in communication. And so you have us with these platforms, a lot of us coming from these communities, we can walk in and talk and understand the people. And they listen to us, and they share their concerns with us. But we can also walk into meet with politicians and legislators and say, 'OK, how can we work together to bring to alleviate these problems?' And so, our goal at that point was, you know, we went to Flint, we realized one thing we wanted to stop, like taking water bottles and want to start bringing water wells. And so how do you help people have sustainability where they're self-sustaining? Once you leave, they don't need you to come back in with a program to try to help alleviate their problem. They can help they can alleviate their own problem. And so what we essentially want on a search to do is to find organizations that are creating a sustainable model. And we want to work with the city and its leaders in the community to implement those sustainable models and scale them out in the best way possible that benefits the citizens, and it benefits those communities that suffer. Because if you think about it, when we're dealing with Covid, and we're dealing with the storms that are coming in and we're dealing with, you know, the social unrest, a lot of communities can't sustain those things. So it's almost like a healthy person, if they catch pneumonia, if they catch a cold in these struggling communities, they catch pneumonia. And so that's what we want to be able to be in position to alleviate. And so we have projects in Minnesota, in Buffalo, in Tulsa, in LA and DC and Atlanta. And we're bringing projects to New Orleans as well. And so Josh, Drew, and I were working on it, even in the season. We had a team put together that that was working on it during the season. And now that it's offseason, we're able to kind of get into it full swing. And so this plan is going to roll itself out beautifully. And so, or has been rolling itself out beautifully. And a lot of support has been coming in. So it's been great."
Well, we know that you don't just have one organization, because that would be too easy for you Demario Davis. You also have Devoted Dreamers Foundation, which on the website, it says it's created to equip the next generation of leaders with the tools to be successful spiritually, mentally and physically. And it's younger men, right? or younger men and women, right?
"Younger men and women. Yes."
So Demario, my question for you when you were young, did you feel this call to action? Were you involved in your community? Were you as active as you are when you were younger? And are you trying to do the same for the next generation?
"No. When I was that age, I was wayward. I was I was a kid, I was getting in a lot of mischief. And, I ran with a lot of guys that were getting into mischief. And the thing that I noticed was how when I made it to the league, and none of my friends that I felt like were a lot more talented than I was hadn't made it. I wanted, like, what was the difference? Like, what did I do different? And I really didn't do a lot different, I made a lot of those same mistakes, a lot of my peers didn't get a chance to go to college because of grades or they got a girl pregnant or you know, they got on drugs and jail or lost a life. And there's a lot of different things. And I realized that I hadn't made a lot of decisions that were different than them. Other than I was a little more disciplined, I performed a little bit better in school. But it was, I felt like God had really allowed me to become the one that was successful, so that I could go back like that I was going to be the one that remembered like, OK, realize that it wasn't you and it was some things that weren't in place that could have protected you and could have helped you make it and it helped a lot of other guys make it that aren't in place. And you need to go back and put holes, like filling those holes over those cracks. And so like that's really what I wanted to do is go no build bridges to create access for the next generation. When you talk about sustainability in any community, sustainability is in the young people. Right, that's the greatest investment you can make. And so that's what I wanted. I mean, it's so much talent in these impoverished communities, so many great minds, so many, so many with great, great skills outside of the ball field, even though a lot of them are talented as well. But with the area they're gonna struggle is not with their talent. Areas they're going to struggle is with their character. Like nobody's teaching them decision-making. Nobody's teaching them how to have a mentor and how to deal with a mentor. And nobody's teaching them like financial literacy and sex education, and drug awareness and all these things that they're dealing with on a day-to-day basis. And nobody's given them a positive role model, when they don't realize, OK, I don't have to look, I don't have to go and be like this drug dealer to be a really like- so if you say like a big time person, I don't have to go be like this drug dealer, I can be like this guy, a positive role model. I want to be like that. So it gives them an option. And so you want to equip them with those life skills. They have to be better person in a lot of ways that we do that, and we share the gospel with them. The Gospel changed my life. You know, I was a kid that was expelled from school. That went to jail. And the gospel radically transformed my life. So I believe that can happen with anybody. And so we teach them character, and we got it through through the gospel, but also like making sure they can perform in the classroom. A lot of the kids by the time they enter third grade, they read at a kindergarten, first grade reading level, and they just been passed along. And if you don't catch it at that age, they're just gonna fall farther and farther behind. And so you look at Mississippi, or places like Mississippi with the lowest test scores around the nation. That happens because they can't understand the question that is asked to them. Like, if somebody was to explain it to them, they can answer the question, but they can't read it in a timely manner and comprehend what it's saying. So that's a big difference. So like, making sure they have reading comprehension, make sure that they have mathematic fundamentals, make sure they have tutoring, make sure that they're like, you're connecting with their counselor. And it's been amazing. It's been amazing. We've been running our organization since 2013. It's taking new heights since 2018. But we have 100 percent graduation rate,. You know, we have a 707 travel team. We have 100 percent scholarship rate in two years. You know, that's 30 guys that are going to college on scholarship. We haven't lost one. And they're talented kids, so it's not anything that we done it but like making sure they have the resources around them, it just proves that they can be successful important tool. And so it is a blessing. I say like those are my babies, but that's the next generation and that's what that what we want to be making sure that we're looking out for the next generation is going to be flooded with leaders who can you know take our country to the heights needs to go to."
Changing the world one starfish at a time Demario. Well we can do a completely separate podcast on your on-the-field abilities because oh, by the way, he plays football for the New Orleans Saints too. This past season you recorded 119 tackles, 74 of them being solo tackles, four sacks, and six pass deflections. You know Demario, I know I've kept you more than the time allotted. But last question, are you going to do any more pool workouts this year? What's the offseason regimen for you?
"I got some things in place. I'm working on some things right now. I ain't gonna share it just yet. Stay tuned."
All right, Demario. We appreciate you coming on the show. Good luck with changing the world, literally. And we appreciate your time. And hopefully, we are seeing each other soon.
"All right. Thank you, Caroline. You take care."
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