Perhaps his ambivalence about fame stems from his first brush with it, in August 1997, when television cameras captured the gruesome beating that Davis took at the hands of teammate Michael Westbrook during a training camp practice. Davis, lying prone on the practice field, took repeated blows to his head and ultimately needed stitches. Though he recovered to rush for 567 yards as Terry Allen's backup that season, stardom as a feature back seemed unlikely for Davis, a 1996 fourth-round draft pick out of Auburn. Indeed, after fullback Larry Bowie was lost for the season in last year's fifth game, Davis volunteered to take his place and watched his rushing totals plummet. But his selflessness and work ethic impressed Turner, who also liked Davis's pass-catching ability so much that he chose him over incumbent starter Skip Hicks to open at tailback in '99. "He fought his ass off to win the job," says Turner. "He deserves it."
Davis's play in the first two weeks certainly attests to that. In a 41-35 overtime loss to the Cowboys, he carried 24 times for 109 yards and two touchdowns. When he wasn't charging through New York's vaunted interior run stoppers, Davis was repeatedly turning the corner with impressive bursts. It was with his third touchdown run of the first quarter that Davis flashed his budding star power. Stopped for an apparent no gain by Giants linebacker Corey Widmer at the New York 19, Davis broke free of the tackle as other players slowed, anticipating a whistle. It never blew, and Davis flew around left end and down the sideline—with none other than Westbrook running interference—for the touchdown that gave Washington a 21-0 lead. Just as the Giants' day was coming to a premature close, Davis had unmistakably arrived.
Flagging a Talking Zebra
The NFL is apoplectic over eighth-year umpire Chad Brown's book about life as an NFL official during the 1998 season, Inside the Meat Grinder (St. Martin's Press). The league will probably discipline Brown for talking out of school, but here's one harmless anecdote that should draw no sanctions:
Green Bay's 345-pound nose-tackle, Gilbert Brown, sidled up to Chad Brown during a Packers-Vikings game to talk about Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch, a Southern-food restaurant in Marina Del Ray, Calif., that Chad had recommended. Gilbert liked the place so much he now was asking Chad, a Carson, Calif., resident, to get him some more chicken.
Chad: "How the hell am I gonna send you fried chicken from Aunt Kizzy's?"
Gilbert: "Don't they do takeout?"
Chad: "Sure they do takeout, but...."
Gilbert: "Air-freight me, baby?'
The Bucs Know Defense