Thomas Davis surprises Panthers followers at Charlotte retailer


Former Carolina Panthers participant Thomas Davis poses for a photograph with two younger followers at Harris Teeter in Ballantyne on Thursday evening.

Ellis Williams

As Panthers legend Thomas Davis sat at a desk at Harris Teeter in Ballantyne on Thursday, handing out samples of wine spritzers, children and households raced towards the previous linebacker in pleasure.

The followers too younger to know precisely who he was have been debriefed by their mother and father about his storied profession in Charlotte, reminiscing about 4 NFC South division titles and quarterbacking the Panthers’ protection to Super Bowl 50.

Davis was there to advertise the grownup beverage model Cool Cat however spent most of his time high-fiving and signing autographs for the greater than 100 consumers who deserted their errand.

“I’m all about supporting minority businesses, especially within our community,” Davis mentioned. “As a minority businessman myself, I know how hard it can be sometimes. And it’s always exciting to be able to interact with fans. They didn’t have to take time out of their schedules to be here today.”

Two of these followers have been Banner, 5, and his four-year-old brother Logan. Their father, Doug Sheldon, and spouse Christina have been grocery buying when Cool Cat and Davis began establishing. After the checkout line, Banner and Logan exchanged excessive fives with Davis and left with signed hats and loads of photographs by way of mother.

“The Panthers have always been a big big part of of our lives, you know, got up every Sunday,” Doug Sheldon mentioned. “(My boys) aren’t going to be able to see (Davis) play. So for us to be one-on-one with him, a guy we watched go on Super Bowl runs when they were babies, we love it.”

Davis loved each {photograph} requested of him on Thursday, as a result of he loves images. After retiring with the Panthers on a one-day contract final March, it didn’t take lengthy for Davis to rejoin the Bank of America sidelines. He served as a visitor photographer for the Panthers media workforce in Weeks 11 and 16, proudly utilizing all his personal tools which he’s amassed over time.

His appreciation for images started 20 years in the past when his oldest daughter was born. Davis began buying cameras to doc his youngsters’s lives. Now with 4 children, Davis information as many moments as he can.

“Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of pictures or a lot of memories from my childhood,” Davis mentioned. “When comes to photos and videos, I capture everything that my kids do.”

Thomas doesn’t know if he’ll be on the sidelines snapping stills this season. He’s lots busy supporting the lives of his multi-sport 14-year-old son and 12-year-old cheerleading and hoopster daughter. Davis immerses himself in his youngsters’s extracurricular actions.

He lights up speaking about his 20-year-old on the University of Kentucky, and his college-bound 19-year-old.

“Being able to spend every moment of every second that I have with them has been truly special for me. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t miss football,” Davis mentioned. “As a dad, you just get proud and you get excited to be able to be a part of those things. When I was playing, I might not have had an opportunity to be a part of some of those.”

As he chronicles his youngsters, Thomas has stayed concerned with the Panthers. Last week he made a fan-favorite look within the 90s-themed schedule launch video. Davis posed as an ice cream truck driver who offered “Keep Pounding” bars, “Spider Burns” sticks, and “Ice up, son” push-ups.

He additionally served because the Panthers’ second-round decide announcer throughout the draft. Carolina didn’t make a second-round choice so Davis by no means took the stage, however he did meet No. 6 decide Ikem Ekwonu. Davis spoke on the NFL Commissioner’s breakfast earlier than the draft, and afterward Ekwonu, a Charlotte native, approached Davis to thank him for exhibiting up at space colleges throughout his 14-year profession.

Ekwonu launched himself as if Davis didn’t know who he was.

“I was like ‘I know exactly who you are, man,’ ” Davis mentioned. “It’s just him. Even taking that time to speak to me in that space. That really speaks to his character. Speaks to what kind of kid he is. So I’m excited to see him added to this team and what he’s gonna do.”

As the Sheldons headed for his or her automotive, the previous and way forward for Panthers soccer collided. Banner and Logan smiled gleefully about assembly a legend they don’t bear in mind watching. Their father took in a proud dad second and spoke hopefully in regards to the upcoming Panthers season he’ll share along with his spouse and two boys.

“I’ve been waiting for some line movement forever. It’s always me preaching, ‘it doesn’t matter who your quarterback is if you don’t have an offensive line,’ ” Sheldon mentioned. “So getting Ikey was good. It was a shock, but the best shock you can ask for.”

This story was initially revealed May 20, 2022 7:00 AM.

Hailing from Minnesota, Ellis L. Williams joined the Observer in October 2021 to cowl the Carolina Panthers. Prior, he spent two years reporting on the Browns for Plain Dealer. Having escaped chilly winters, he’s thrilled to devour soccer, hoops, music and films inside the Queen City.

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