By Dylan Rosenthal
Former Abundant Life participant Rashard Davis capped his rookie season in the NFL with every football player’s dream: a Super Bowl Championship! For Rashard, it was his fourth dream come true in just the last 13 months: graduate from college (James Madison University), win a college football national championship, play in the NFL (Philadelphia Eagles), and win a Super Bowl. Of the last achievement, Rashard says this week has been “like an out of body experience you don’t want to ever end.”
The past year has not been without adversity though. Rashard went undrafted in April, tried out for multiple teams, and was signed and released by the Eagles several times throughout the season. According to Rashard, “It’s been a roller coaster that ended at the top.”
Overcoming adversity is nothing new for Rashard. He has made it his mission to prove everyone wrong who told him he was too small to play football in high school, college, and the NFL. He parlayed his hard work in the classroom and on the gridiron into a full athletic scholarship to JMU and first-team All American honors as a senior. Rashard offers this advice to the boys of the 5/8 Club: “Never let someone tell you what you can and can’t do.”
Ten years ago, Rashard was at Abundant Life’s Volunteer Appreciation Banquet in the Buford Middle School cafeteria, reading a heartfelt letter thanking his tutor of three years, Taylor Greene, for his commitment, mentorship, and friendship. Describing Taylor as being “like an older brother,” he credits his former tutor for “showing him another way to live – how to keep up with school work, get to and graduate college.” Rashard says attending Taylor’s graduation from UVA, and seeing what a big deal it was, inspired him and made college seem more attainable.
Not only did Rashard get to college, but he graduated from JMU in only 3.5 years. On what he would tell kids who dream of one day playing professional sports, Rashard offers this: “Go to class, sit up front, pay attention, and do the work.” He says he had lots of college options coming out of high school not just because of his athletic ability, but because of his GPA.
Rashard credits his success to keeping God first, hard work and dedication, and learning to adapt and get through adversity. He realizes his football career won’t last forever, so he’s already planning for the future. He wants to be a personal trainer some day and open up a private gym. That may be after a lengthy playing career though. After all he’s accomplished, would you doubt him?