Browns#8217; Davis isn#8217;t bitter despite taking pay cut
The Associated Press
BEREA — Imagine your boss asking you to take a 40 percent cut in salary, then adding that this will be your last year on the payroll. Ouch.
Now, imagine being able to smile about it.
Andra Davis isn’t bitter. It’s not in his DNA. And in a sport where greed too often rules, Cleveland’s linebacker has but one demand: The chance to play and support his family.
‘‘Money’s the last thing on our mind,’’ Davis said after practice this week. ‘‘We grew up dirt poor. For me to come from the small town of Live Oak, Florida, it’s a blessing what we have now. I’m doing way better than 99 percent of people.’’
But among the 1 percenters, Davis’ willingness to accept a huge slash in pay is rare.
Following the worst of his six seasons with the Browns, the club asked the 29-year-old Davis to accept a base salary for this season of $1.675 million — down from the $3 million he agreed to when he signed a five-year contract extension in 2005. On top of that, the Browns trimmed two years off his deal.
‘‘I’m not worried,’’ said the likable Davis, who is active in the Cleveland community and may be the most approachable player on the Browns’ roster. ‘‘My wife (Monique) and I have hardly touched any of the signing bonus. I’m not going to be one of those guys that when they leave this league they’re broke.’’
One of the club’s top defenders since 2003, Davis’ playing time was cut dramatically last season as the Browns began to rotate in some young blood. The former Florida Gator was credited with 104 tackles, 29 less than the previous season and 95 fewer than in 2005 when he recorded a career-high 199 stops.
He was slowed by an ankle injury sustained during training camp and Davis eventually was taken off the field on third downs and replaced by second-year linebacker Leon Williams.
A mainstay in the middle of Cleveland’s defense for five years, Davis was suddenly on the outside.
‘‘It was a tough adjustment,’’ he said. ‘‘But I don’t have any regrets the way last year played out because it gave me the attitude I have now. It was very humbling. I learned a lot from that. But not playing all those snaps might have added some years on my career.’’
When the offseason rolled around, the Browns asked Davis to take one for the team and give back monetarily.
He could have said, ’No.’ He could have told general manager Phil Savage to trade or release him. But Davis agreed, after speaking with coach Romeo Crennel.
‘‘I talked to RAC (Rack),’’ Davis said, using Crennel’s nickname. ‘‘RAC had a big influence on my decision. He told me what the situation was going to be. He told me about the additions they were trying to get. Why leave now? We’re building something. I’ve been through the bad years so I’m going to try to stick around through the good years.’’
The season ahead promises to be as good as it’s been in Cleveland for a long time.
The Browns have talent at every position, and their defense, which ranked 30th overall last season, has been bolstered by the additions of linemen Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams, two mountains of men who can clog running lanes.
‘‘Those big guys demand a double team,’’ Davis said.
And with blockers tied up, Davis and Cleveland’s linebackers figure to be busy.
‘‘Hopefully what will happen is the guys up front will keep the linebackers clean so that the linebackers can make the tackles, and if that occurs then Andra Davis will have a good year and I think we’ll be pleased with what we see from him,’’ Crennel said. ‘‘He’s a good leader, he’s a team player and we’ve got a chance to see his production pick up. He’s solid.’’
Davis, a father of three daughters, reported to camp stronger and five pounds heavier than last season after working out with running back Jamal Lewis.
‘‘I wanted to get quicker but also keep my strength,’’ he said. ‘‘I feel I did that.’’
He isn’t dwelling on what happened last season and he’s not thinking too far ahead, either. His only concern right now is the season opener on Sept. 7 against Dallas. Beyond that, he wants to stay with the Browns as long as they’ll have him.
‘‘Cleveland’s my home,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m not worried about the future. I’m just worried about the present. I’d be foolish to be thinking about what’ll happen at the end of the year when we’ve got a great opportunity in front of us right now. We’ve never had this much talent here since I’ve been here.’’