How Vernon Davis found the strength to play after losing grandfather

Chris Lingebach
September 11, 2019 - 1:37 pm

Redskins tight end Vernon Davis couldn't hold back the tears any longer. They sprung from his eyes as he crossed the goal line Sunday, completing an improbable 48-yard score less than 24 hours after his grandfather, Lynwood Smith, passed away.

Davis, who was raised by his grandparents, had the weight of the world on his shoulders coming into the Week 1 divisional game in Philadelphia. Without Jordan Reed, who sat out with a concussion, Davis' presence in the Redskins offense was imperative, even if his mind was elsewhere before the game.

"I think it was a great day, yeah," Davis told 106. The Fan's Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier, when asked if that was one of the more important touchdowns of his 14-year NFL career.

"Being out there and playing that game after taking the loss with my grandfather was, uh... it was tough," he said. "It was tough on that day, but I knew how important it was for me to be able to help my teammates win that game, because this is very important for us. But I will definitely remember that play, for sure."

Davis had been overcome with emotion the entire day. His tears after the touchdown – which briefly had fans wondering if he'd been hurt on the play – were a window into his world over the previous 24 hours.

"It was all day," Davis said. "I mean that night, I believe I only got about three hours of sleep, cause I was tossing and turning just thinking about that entire day. The first 24 hours was, I mean it was so turbulent, very turbulent. And I say that because seeing my grandfather walking in the house and carrying him out after he had died.

"You know, just all day was just tough. Yeah. I had to do what I could, and just hope for the best and prepare for the worst during that day, because I knew I had to get through it."

Football requires intense focus, the lapse of which for even a second can lead to injury. Putting his emotions aside to devote the level of attention the game requires was certainly challenging.

"It was quite a challenge. I'm not going to lie about that," he said. "But I feel like, when you face situations like that, you have to think about the times when you were at your lowest point, everything you had to fight through, and just get through that day, get through that moment."

"So I put myself in that place and I felt like I was there," he said. "And I knew that if I can get through this day, everything else will be okay because tough times don't last. They're only there for a moment. So if you think about that, you can be optimistic and just know that you'll make it through and everything will be okay."

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