Former Detroit Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis admitted to media on Wednesday that during his time in Detroit, he considered retiring from football.
“I contemplated walking away. I really did,” Davis said.
Davis was drafted 21st overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. He managed to stay on the Lions roster for all four years of his rookie contract, but his play was consistently criticized by analysts and fans. He struggled to drop in coverage, he often missed his run fits, and eventually, it led to his role being reduced on the Lions' defense. Eventually, the mental aspect of the game started to take a toll on him.
“I was just not happy, man,” Davis said. “I think one thing that I was doing—and this is on me—I was making the game everything, and I was making myself the game. And when I was doing that, it just didn’t feel right. This is such a competitive sport at this level, you have to put your everything, you have to put your all into it. But there has to be balance [...] If my personal life got in the way of football, it couldn’t exist, and living like that I burnt myself out.”
Davis described how he was losing a personal mental battle every day in Detroit. With football being his entire personal identity, every mistake—in his mind—was a reflection of who he was as a person. “I’m terrible,” he would think to himself. And the next time he stepped up to make a play, he’d become hesitant, hoping to avoid the same mistake.
“You almost get antsy to make a misstep,” Davis explained. “So now you can’t even walk as yourself confidently anymore.”
The Lions chose not to re-sign him this offseason, and he quickly signed a one-year, $5.5 million deal with the New York Jets. Since his time in Detroit, Davis says he has taken care of himself personally and mentally, and the change in scenery has him revitalized again. He’s reprioritized things in his life, and when it comes to football, he feels like he’s in a better spot with the Jets. Specifically, he’s thrilled to be working in a scheme that has simplified things for him so he can focus on the things that made him such a talented player in college.
“I feel like this defense is a little bit simpler, so it kind of makes things a lot easier for me,” Davis said. “It’s one of those things where you think, but you don’t have to think a lot. And once you know your scheme, once you know your job, now you’re really worried about what the other team is doing and what the offense is doing to you. That’s the one thing that I think will allow let me play faster in this scheme.”
You can watch Davis’ entire presser from Wednesday below: