San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Anthony Davis shocked the world when he announced last week that he was going to take a year or two away from football. The 25-year old Davis said the reason for his sabbatical was to give his brain and body an opportunity to heal from the abuse they’ve taken from years of competitive football.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he did it during an offseason where the 49ers lost just about everybody not named Colin Kaepernick.
I’m not going to say that he’s lying about his reasons for taking time off because the long-term detrimental effects of playing football can’t be denied in today’s day in age. However, do you really think Davis would be quasi-retiring if the 49ers entered 2015 as Super Bowl contenders? I don’t.
This isn’t a criticism of Davis. In fact, I think the former first round pick is actually quite smart to do this. There’s five years (and $23 million) left on his current contract with San Francisco so let’s assume Davis wants to play five more years of football in his career. That means five more opportunities to be part of a Super Bowl winner. Why would he want to waste one of those chances on this Jim Tomsula-lead 49er team that’s a contender for the number one overall pick?
He’s earned $28 million in his five-year career per Spotrac.com so it’s not like he’s hurting for money currently. Plus, Davis already signed his big NFL contract so he’s got $23 million on the table whenever he chooses to take it.
In his retirement announcement Davis said, “Your life is your dream and you have the power to control that dream.”
Rarely in the NFL does a player have the power to choose when he’s going to play and who he’s going to play for without having to sacrifice some money in the process. Even more rare is the NFL player with the self-awareness to recognize that.