By John DeShazier
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis has been named the club’s 2022 Man of the Year, making him the club nominee for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide. The award is given annually by the NFL honoring a player’s community service work as well as his excellence on the field. Team nominees for all 32 clubs were announced Tuesday. This is the second time that Davis is the team nominee, having first been nominated in 2020.
“The Walter Payton Man of the Year is a special honor and I’m truly humbled to be the Saints nominee,” Davis said. “It is particularly special to me, given my roots as a Mississippi native and that I share a home state with the great man that the award is named after. Helping those in need, especially youth, is something that is very close to my heart and it is a blessing to be able to help them achieve their dreams through the Devoted Dreamers Foundation.”
“I am proud of all the good work that our players do in the community and the opportunity for it to be highlighted,” Saints Owner Gayle Benson said. “Since Demario first came to New Orleans in 2018, he has had a passion for always working to make wherever he is better, whether that is our football team, our locker room, or helping those in the community in need. The leadership he brings to both this football team and to this community shows the impact that the National Football League and its players can have.”
Davis has been a perfect fit on the field for the Saints as well as in the Gulf South community since signing with the club as an unrestricted free agent in 2018. On the field, he’s opened all 77 regular season games that he’s played in for New Orleans as the team’s defensive signal-caller and five-time defensive team captain, leading the Saints in tackles over the period with 525 stops (346 solo), 22.5 sacks, two interceptions, 32 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two recoveries.
In 2021, Davis was selected as an Associated Press All-Pro for the third consecutive season, leading the team with 105 tackles, three sacks, one pick and seven passes defensed for a defensive unit ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in eight major categories. In 2022, he has opened all 13 games at middle linebacker, anchoring a defense and fostering improvement out of a group that has surrendered 20 or fewer points in five of the last six contests, leading the team with 80 tackles (42 solo), while adding a club-best 6.5 sacks, one interception, five passes defensed and one fumble recovery. Overall, in his 11th NFL season, Davis has posted 1,185 career tackles, 36 sacks, three picks, 49 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries.
Off the field, Davis has been heavily involved in community service, youth engagement, faith-based and social justice initiatives in the New Orleans area and in his home state of Mississippi. Davis and his wife, Tamela, started the Devoted Dreamers Foundation with the mission to equip the next generation of leaders with the tools to be successful spiritually, mentally and physically, teaching everything from reading to finances to vehicle repair.