Panther linebacker Thomas Davis takes a question from a fan Wednesday afternoon in Charlotte.
Panther linebacker Thomas Davis ended up as a last-minute substitution Wednesday for another former Georgia Bulldog – Herschel Walker.
Walker was supposed to be the Charlotte Touchdown Club’s luncheon speaker and was already in Charlotte. But he had to rush to Georgia when he got the sad news Wednesday morning that his father had died.
Davis had planned on just introducing Walker for his speech and then getting Walker to sign a jersey for him – Davis is a big fan of Walker’s. But instead Davis talked to the crowd of several hundred instead, mostly doing Q and A. Here are five interesting things from Davis’s public talk and his one-on-one interview with me afterward:
1. Davis told me after his speech that the Panther defense is good enough to “definitely compete for that No.1 spot in the league.” The Panthers finished 10th in total defense (based on yardage) in 2012.
2. Davis isn’t about to take out a full-page advertisement in The Charlotte Observer predicting a Super Bowl victory for Carolina like center Ryan Kalil did last year, but he is very confident about the team. “I definitely think we have all the potential in the world,” Davis said. He said quarterback Cam Newton has matured and that “we’re definitely looking forward to him going on and leading us to where we want to be this year -- and that’s the Super Bowl.”
3. Davis said the Panthers’ linebacker corps – paced by Luke Kuechly, Jon Beason and Davis himself – had huge potential for 2013.
“We have no doubt not only the opportunity to be not only the best linebacker group to come through Carolina, but we definitely can be the best linebacker group in the league,” Davis said. He said in particular that Beason looked “as fast or faster” as he was before his latest injury.
4. Davis, a huge Miami Heat fan, said there is no doubt that the Heat will win Game 7 Thursday night. He said he and defensive end Charles Johnson, who Davis said cannot stand the Heat, had been texting each other constantly during the rollercoaster Game 6 on Tuesday night until Davis finally got the last word following the Heat's late comeback.
5. The Charlotte Touchdown Club has been in existence more than 20 years and has had close to 200 lunch speakers at this point, organizers said. Amazingly, this was only the second last-minute cancellation by a speaker. The first came a few years ago, when former Buffalo running back Thurman Thomas simply didn’t show up, they said.
Walker had already been in Charlotte – he did an interview with WFNZ 610 AM Tuesday afternoon to promote the event – but then had to go to Georgia when his father (who had been in poor health) passed away. Walker will likely come back to speak to the Charlotte Touchdown Club in May 2014.