Thomas Davis is the Carolina Panthers' outside linebacker, a position that requires the NFL star to be both a brute and a brain.
"Being a good outside linebacker, first and foremost, you have to be smart," says Davis. "Before we actually get to play a football game, we spend a ton of time in the classroom. During the OTAs and during the spring time is some of the toughest workouts you can imagine."
Fortunately, Davis has what it takes to get the job done. It's embedded in his courage. That courage— the mental, moral, and physical strength—is a value shared by No. 58 and the United States Marine Corps.
"[It's] taking the initiative to do things that most people won't do," he explains, adding he can't help but "think about" the Marines, when the thought of bravery comes to mind, "and what they do for this country."
Additionally, one must be committed, which he describes as the act of "totally dedicating yourself to whatever task you set out to do."
Look no further than his own sacrifice: Davis is a former collegiate All-American, who was picked in the first round of the NFL Draft out of the University of Georgia and converted from his standout position of safety to linebacker. He also sacrifices for others: his Defending Dreams Foundation runs a youth football camp and feeds families during Thanksgiving.
When asked what impact music has on Davis and his career, the NFC Champ says: "When a certain tune comes on and you're jamming to the music, you don't even think what you're putting your body through.
"When you think about music and how big of an impact it has on what we say, what we do, how we dress—it affects us in so many different ways that we don't even realize it," he asserts.
That isn't all. According to Davis, integrity is also a key trait to have in order to be successful. "What honor means to me is always doing things the right way," he states. "Having good integrity is going to have a huge impact on your life."
He should know. Davis earned the 2014 Walton Payton Man of the Year Award at the NFL Honors. After being named the honoree, he delivered a heartfelt and passionate speech about his work off the field.
"I grew up in a single-parent household, and my mom struggled to raise me and my sister, and I didn't want these kids to go through what we had to go through," he said. "I tried to reach out and give back to them as much as I can to make sure that those kids don't go through those struggles."
Again, Davis' actions speak so much louder than his voice. He restructured his contract in the past to allow the Panthers to build a better team. After battling injuries, he helped lead his team on an upward swing that resulted in a trip to the Super Bowl 50, 2016. During the title game, Davis amassed seven tackles while playing with 11 screws in his arm after undergoing surgery just two weeks prior. He wore a padded cast that protected his arm, which was so severely injured that the stitches to close the wound were as intricate as the stitches on a football.
As for what motivates Davis on and off the field, it is as simple as relying on himself to succeed.
"My will to want to succeed," he confesses. "My drive to be the best at what I'm doing. My drive to want to win."
Brought to you by the United States Marine Corps.