After the game, Davis confirmed that he retired, but said that the real reason was because he wasn’t physically up to playing anymore and that he “meant no disrespect to my teammates and coaches.”
The full text reads:
This isn’t how I pictured retiring from the NFL.
But in my 10th NFL season, I have been doing what my body has been programmed to do: Get ready to play on game day. I’ve endured multiple surgeries and played through many different injuries throughout my career and, over the last few weeks, this was the latest physical challenge.
But today on the field, reality hit me fast and hard: I shouldn’t be out there anymore.
I meant no disrespect to my teammates and coaches. But I hold myself to a standard. Mentally, I always expect myself to play at a high level. But physically, I know today that isn’t possible, and I had an honest moment with myself. While I was on the field, I just didn’t feel right, and I told the coaches, ‘I’m not feeling like myself.’
I also wondered: Do I want to keep sacrificing?
And truthfully, I do not because the season is long, and it’s more important for me and my family to walk away healthy than to willfully embrace the warrior mentality and limp away too late.
This was an overwhelming decision, but I’m at peace with myself and my family. I choose to be grateful to God for allowing me to play the game that I have loved as a boy until I turned 30 years old. I choose to be grateful to God for being a part of the NFL and making lifelong friends over the last decade. There were roadblocks and pitfalls along the way, but I am grateful to God for all of it because he doesn’t promise any of us an easy journey.
Lastly, I am grateful to God for what he has in store for me ahead, in this next chapter of my life.
Days later, Davis spoke to Domonique Foxworth of the Undefeated, telling him that he had never felt better.
“I left everything the league wanted me to be, playing for my teammates while injured, the gladiator mentality, it all just popped. And when it popped, I just wanted to leave it all behind. So that’s why I don’t care what people say. That experience was personal and not meant for anyone else to understand. It was me cold turkey leaving behind an identity that I carried with me for so long.”
He added that his brother, Washington tight end Vernon Davis, was shocked, but supportive of his abrupt retirement.
Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander was the first to break the news:
Buffalo CB Vontae Davis apparently retired at halftime during the Chargers-Bills game Sunday.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 16, 2018
"He said he's not coming out. He retired..."
—Bills LB Lorenzo Alexander pic.twitter.com/ab7wJoyc7f
Bills head coach Sean McDermott said Davis pulled himself from the game at halftime, although he chose not to go into other details:
#Bills HC Sean McDermott said Vontae Davis pulled himself out of the game.— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) September 16, 2018
According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, Davis changed into his street clothes and left.
Word is Vontae Davis put on his street clothes at half, said he was quitting and left the stadium, per another source https://t.co/spdxMWrNSd— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) September 16, 2018
It was a loss that a depleted Bills secondary really couldn’t afford and it certainly didn’t help Buffalo’s attempts to slow down Philip Rivers who finished with 23 completions on 27 attempts for 256 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions.
Retiring in the middle of the game is a breach of contract that should void part of the guarantees in the one-year, $5 million deal Davis signed with the Bills in February.
Bills can get back nearly all of Vontae Davis' $1.5M signing bonus & void his $2M base salary guarantee. The remainder & his per game roster bonuses won't get paid. Termination pay, which can be collected once, isn't applicable. Davis collected $3,705,882 of it from last season. https://t.co/MyFtG4Y37B— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) September 17, 2018
Also, retiring Sunday doesn’t mean that Davis is going to be free to return in 2019 with a different team.
If this really is the end for Davis, it’s unlike the close of any other NFL career. And for the Bills, it’s more bad news during a horrible start to the year.