Thomas Davis and Charles Johnson became about as close as two teammates could become throughout their football careers.
Davis – an outside linebacker – and Johnson – a defensive end – have a lot more in common than just playing defense.
Davis and Johnson, who both played football together for a season in 2004 before Davis departed for the NFL, have been teammates for over a decade. Both were drafted by the Carolina Panthers, where they would go on to play their entire careers in Charlotte, North Carolina.
On Wednesday, Johnson, the team’s second all-time leader in sacks, officially announced his retirement after an 11 year career.
Fellow Bulldog and Panther, Davis, had only great things to say about his longtime friend and teammate.
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Still can’t believe my DAWG is retiring today. I got the opportunity to watch @cjgeorgia99 grow from a small town (lazy) country boy into a true hard working professional in every aspect of his life! Today my brother we get to celebrate all that you have accomplished as a professional athlete but for years to come we will be able to celebrate who you are and what you’ve done away from the field so much more!! Salute my brother for life!!!
Davis, who is entering his 14th season in the NFL (all with the Panthers), announced this would be his final year of football. However, after being suspended for the start of the 2018 season for violating the league’s policy for performance-enhancing drugs, Davis hinted that he may have to put his retirement on hold for a season.
When Johnson first arrived in Carolina, Davis had already been there a few years, just like their times at Georgia. And just like at UGA, Johnson played sparingly at the start.
At Georgia, Johnson burst onto the scene his junior season, after a solid sophomore year. During his third year, though, he was an absolute star, recording 9.5 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss. He also added 4 career forced fumbles and 1 touchdown in 2005.
Similar to his time at Georgia, Johnson’s NFL career got off to a slow start, but he always had Davis to help him along. Johnson would eventually make a name for himself as one of the league’s most dominant ends, averaging 10.5 sacks from 2010 to 2014.
Davis, a three time pro bowler, has found similar success throughout his ongoing career.With six seasons of over 100 tackles, Davis has consistently been one of the best outside linebackers in the league for the past 14 seasons. Davis’ success has not come easy, though. Injuries have plagued him throughout his career, but Davis always bounced back stronger than before. From three torn ACLs in the same knee, to dislocated fingers, broken ribs, broken forearms and torn labrums, it is amazing to think Davis is still going strong.
But through all the hardships, Davis always had his close friend and teammate Charles Johnson to lean on.
The two small-town Georgia natives – Davis (Shellman, Randolph Clay HS) and Johnson (Hawkinsville) – not only made a name for themselves on the football field, but both have found success as philanthropists off the field.
The Charles Johnson Foundation has provided numerous kids with scholarships to attend college. In addition, come holiday season, you can expect to see Johnson personally handing out school supplies, food, etc. to the underprivileged families of either Hawksinville or Charlotte.
Davis, who won the 2014 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, is the founder of the Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation. Through this, Davis aims to assist youth in realizing that their past does not determine their future.
There’s no doubt the Damn Good Dawgs have done things the Georgia Way from the start. They’re Georgia Boys through and through, and they will be the first to tell you that. With Johnson no longer being occupied on Sundays, expect to see him on the sidelines Between the Hedges on Saturdays in Athens.
Both outspoken Georgia fans, Davis rolls around Charlotte in his custom made UGA-themed car, featuring red exterior with black leather.
Just recently, Johnson showed his love to the Dawgs, proclaiming he is “betting big money on the Dawgs,” this season.
If these two are not the epitome of relationship goals, then I don’t know what is. Congratulations to these Georgia greats on successful NFL careers, and best wishes to Johnson for a happy retirement.