Andra Davis-Cleveland Browns Rookie
Coming to Cleveland ended up being more of a blessing, for Andra and his wife, than they imagined or expected.
by Cynthia K. Berry
It was a nail biter game on September 29th. The Cleveland Browns were facing their archrivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The game was in overtime and the Steelers had the ball first. Suddenly, an interception by Number 54 stopped the first play of their drive on Pittsburgh's Heinz Field! Cheers of elated Dawgs fans rang through the stadium for Linebacker, Andra Davis, a rookie in his first year with the Browns.
||Andra Davis, the rookie linebacker, not Andre Davis,WR
Though the Browns ended up losing the game 16-13 to the Steelers in overtime, Andra Davis will never forget the euphoria he experienced when he landed that football into his arms. The season had just begun and he already had a career highlight.
But, highlights are nothing new to this 2002 graduate of the University of Florida. Early in his college football career, Davis started the Citrus Bowl and was named Florida's Outstanding Linebacker. As a starter in every game in 2001 for the University of Florida Gators, he led the team as middle linebacker with 107 tackles. Davis was chosen by the Associated Press and Football News as All-Southeastern Conference first team selection, and was also a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker.
One of Davis' most meaningful honors came in the spring of 2001 when, as a college senior, he was the co-recipient of the defensive unit's Most Inspirational Player Award. The award recognized Davis for the daily encouragement he gave to the team, though he was red-shirted for the entire 2000 season after he suffered a knee injury in the season opener.
Before graduation, Davis had the privilege of being selected by the Cleveland Browns in the fifth round, 141st overall, of the 2002 NFL Draft. As a rookie, he is a backup linebacker who occasionally fills in for the starting linebackers and also plays on special teams.
"I have a body type built for football," says the 6'1", 244-pound linebacker who earned All America recognition as a linebacker at Suwanee High School in Live Oak, Florida. "I have been playing football since I was six years old. I have a lot of male figures in my family who taught me the game and I got good at it."
Davis, the oldest of five children, credits his extended family for all the support they offered him as he was growing up. But, his family's support and guidance extended beyond sports, he is quick to point out. Davis had to attend and volunteer at Great New Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church every Sunday through high school.
"They instilled a good foundation, but I strayed away while in college. I never really lost my faith, but I set it aside so I could party," Davis admits. "When I injured my knee in my junior year and my career was in jeopardy, it was God's way of reminding me that I can't do anything with out Him."
Davis' spiritual awakening culminated earlier this year when, in his words, "I really and truly gave my life to Christ." This life-changing decision came in the wake of his move to Cleveland, with his high school sweetheart and wife, Monique, and their two-year-old daughter, Elisha.
"When we got to Cleveland, we didn't know anyone. We realized we had to depend on each other and the Lord," Davis explains. "One night, Monique's grandmother called and talked with her about praying to give her life to Christ as Savior and Lord. Monique was so excited and happy, that three weeks later I came to the same decision."
One of the first things Davis did after deciding to follow Christ, was to call his Uncle Anthony Owens, whom he is very close to. "My uncle told me, 'that is the best decision you ever made in your life'."
Davis testifies, "Ever since I gave my life to Christ I have so much peace; I am a better husband, father and football player. I know the storms will come, but I am depending and leaning on the Lord."
Davis and his wife attend a weekly team Bible study with Chaplain Tom Peterson. "We have great connections with each other and it is encouraging to share our experiences," he says.
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Davis predicts, "We have a good young team steady on the uprising. We have lots of loyal support from the community and our fans. We just need to keep supporting and believing in each other and keep our faith in the Lord."