Ja’Gared Davis Hoists the Grey Cup
By Will Johnson
CALGARY – His road to play professional football has taken a few twists and turns over the years. Some have been good and some not so good. On Sunday, Nov. 25, however, the road made a stop in Edmonton and Crockett’s very own Ja’Gared Davis was able to hoist the Grey Cup after his Calgary Stampeders defeated the Ottawa RedBlacks by a final score of 27-16 to win the Canadian Football League (CFL) Championship
It was his third trip to the Grey Cup, the Canadian equivalent of the Super Bowl, but his first win. In his CFL rookie year of 2016, the Stampeders fell to Ottawa and last year, Toronto raised the Cup.
Earlier this week, the former Crockett Bulldog (Class of 2009) took time to speak with The Messenger on a variety of topics.
One area which was discussed concerned the differences between the NFL and CFL. He said some of the major differences included: a bigger field; three downs instead of four; 12 men on the field instead of 11; and only one timeout per half in the CFL.
“The punt returners also have a five-yard halo around them in any direction. There’s no fair catch up here,” the defensive end/linebacker said.
Asked what it was like when he walked into Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton for this year’s championship, Davis recalled, “For me, it was a sense of focus. I’ve been to the Grey Cup three years in a row. The first two years, I wound up on the wrong side when the clock hit zero. This third time, it just felt different. It felt like nothing could stop us. I was just blessed by the man upstairs to be in this situation.”
He added, “To be able to win on that field – there was no better feeling.”
Davis said the victory over Ottawa was especially sweet because “… we played them in ’16 in my first Grey Cup, when we lost. It was kind of nice to get a little payback.”
After the game was over and there was a lull in the celebration, Davis laughed and said he got on a horse and started looking for his mom.
“She has been with me since Jump Street. She has always had my back. I wanted to win this for her and to win this for my daughter. I also wanted to do this for Crockett. Now, it’s time to rebound and do it all over again,” Davis said.
He said the upcoming year would be difficult because now that the Stampeders were the champs, they would have a target on their backs.
“Some guys might even feel content,” he cautioned. “It might be a little harder to motivate guys to be the best and work the long hours it takes to be successful. Everybody wants to knock off the champs.”
Changing gears somewhat, Davis was asked about his time in the NFL, specifically when he played for the New England Patriots and legendary Head Coach Bill Belichick.
“My time there molded me to become a professional. Under Bill’s tutelage, I came to see why the Patriots were great. I understand why. I understand how they prepare and demand the best out of you, day in and day out,” he said.
The former Crockett Bulldog expressed under Belichick’s regime, even if you are considered the most amazing athlete on the field, if you don’t know your job, you’ll never see any playing time.
“Bill gets a bad rap. It’s not that he’s this mean guy, he’s just not a people person. He doesn’t like the spotlight being on him. He’s there for the team. His ultimate goal is to win. Even though it was just a little bit, Bill and I would have one or two conversations a day. He has a very dry sense of humor,” Davis revealed.
As the conversation continued, Davis commented on how Crockett had laid the foundation for his success.
“For me, if you go back in the history books, Crockett has always been one of the most dominant small towns in sports. Football, basketball, track and baseball – you name it. We have always had some great athletes come out of Crockett. Unfortunately, very few have ever made it to the big show,” he said.
“A few have stuck with it but there were always four or five top-tier athletes who I looked up to and molded my game after who never did. I always learned from them what to do and what not to do. I didn’t want to make the same mistakes. I wanted to be selfish, so to speak. Here’s the thing. I’m nowhere close to the best athlete to come out of Crockett,” Davis said.
Learning how to say no, learning how to dedicate yourself to a passion and learning how to stick with something helped him along his path, Davis said.
“I learned how to sacrifice more than most young men my age would so I could do the things I wanted to do. At the end of the day, I want to say I did my best and I gave it my all. I don’t want to look back and say ‘if I’d only done this.’ If I devote everything to it, things will work out and that’s what happened for me. I’ve been blessed to make it as far as I have, so far,” he said.
Following a brief pause, Davis explained, “It wasn’t just Crockett High School but it was also Crockett, Texas that helped mold me into the football player and the man I wanted to be.”
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.