The players appreciate Davis's rough-and-tumble "bedside manner." Says Montgomery, "Football players are supposed to be so tough. We try not to let anybody know how much we hurt or how scared we are. But we can't fool Otho. He senses it." Says Jaworski, "We always think about injuries. It could all be over tomorrow, and the injury could mean paralysis. We're under tremendous pressure. We have to be able to let down our guard somewhere."
"My door is always open," says Davis.
Not only has Davis—who has been named Professional Trainer of the Year four times and was inducted into the Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame in 1981—turned his training room into a home away from home for the Eagles, but he also has made it one of the most up-to-date and complete in the NFL. He has pneumatic air-pressure appliances that reduce swelling; ultrasound equipment; diathermy packs for deep heat; hydrocollator packs for moist heat; traction tables, which warm and massage the back; a Cybex machine, which detects weakness in muscles; a $40,000 computerized Ariel machine, which precisely monitors a patient's rehabilitation progress; three whirlpools; a hot tub; and a "mood" room with carpeted walls and a recliner—although Davis has to be careful whom he lets use it. Tackle Leonard Mitchell fell asleep in the recliner one time and missed part of a practice.
Davis, who logged in 8,500 treatments last year, sometimes works around the clock. Jaworski remembers his ankle sprain of 1979: "We got back from a game in Detroit, and Otho worked on my ankle until 2 a.m. The next day, he was back at 7 a.m., and he massaged my foot for three hours. I couldn't even touch it, but he worked miracles. He had me back on the field that Sunday." When Eagle defensive end Carl Hairston (now with Cleveland) suffered a strained knee during a midweek practice, Davis treated it for 28 straight hours, and Hairston was able to play the following Sunday.
For Davis, the hardest part of dealing with injuries is having to go onto the field to face a player who has gone down. "Last year, in the fourth game of the season, my knee gave out," says Montgomery, who underwent surgery and missed most of the season. "I thought my career was over. I looked up, and there was Otho. He grabbed my hand and told me everything would be O.K."
At times like that, Davis says, he must divorce himself from his feelings. "You can't let yourself be torn," he says. "You can't take management's side or the player's side. You do what's right."
Psst. Don't tell anybody, but Jaworski and Montgomery have been staying up late planning the ultimate prank to pull on Davis. It had better be good because Davis has a way of getting the last laugh. His assistant, Steve Watterson, recalls the closest anyone came to pulling one off on Otho: "In training camp, one of our two student trainers doused Otho's food with Tabasco sauce. Otho took a bite, and his lip curled up a bit. But instead of letting on, he ate the whole plate. Then, he sat back ... with a smile on his face."