Wade Davis (American football)

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Wade Davis
No. 23, 25, 42, 36
Position: Cornerback
Personal information
Date of birth: (1977-07-28) July 28, 1977 (age 41)
Place of birth: Little Rock, Arkansas
Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight: 180 lb (82 kg)
Career information
High school: Aurora (CO) Overland
College: Weber State
Undrafted: 2000
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards

Wade Alan Davis II (born July 28, 1977)[1] is an American speaker, activist, writer, educator and former American football player.

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Davis grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana and Aurora, Colorado. He played college football at Mesa State and Weber State. In 2000, Davis signed with the Tennessee Titans of the NFL as an undrafted free agent but was cut after the preseason. Davis made his professional debut in 2001 with the NFL Europe team Berlin Thunder and won the World Bowl IX title with the Thunder. After spending the 2001 preseason with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, Davis again played the 2002 regular season in the NFL Europe with the Barcelona Dragons. Davis then participated in training camps and preseasons with the Tennessee Titans in 2002 and Washington Redskins in 2003 before retiring due to injury.

In 2012, Davis came out publicly speaking about what it was like to be closeted and gay in the NFL.[2][3][4]

Davis is currently executive director for the You Can Play Project, an advocacy organization working to eradicate homophobia in professional sports. Wade develops curriculum, programming, training and conversations focused on inclusion and diversity. He formerly worked at the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York City, New York, as the Assistant Director of Job Readiness, where he helped at-promise LGBT youth learn life skills.

Wade has been invited to keynote and present workshops at colleges, universities, and corporations nationally and internationally.[5][6][7]

Early life and college years

Davis was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and spent most of his childhood in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was raised in a Southern Baptist family and went to church four to five times a week.[8] Davis was the only boy and the youngest child in his family. Davis suffered from a speech impediment and did not like to talk, which added to his feelings of loneliness. At seven years of age, Davis discovered football.

Davis later moved to Aurora, Colorado and attended Overland High School, graduating in 1996.[1][9]

Davis played college football first at Mesa State College, a small college in Grand Junction, Colorado, in 1996. He transferred to Weber State University of Ogden, Utah in 1997 and played three seasons on the Weber State Wildcats football team. As a sophomore in 1997, Davis blocked two kicks. In 1999, his senior year, Davis made 11 tackles in one game for Weber State and was an honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference selection.[1] With Weber State, Davis made 142 tackles (3 for loss), one fumble recovery, 2 forced fumbles, 20 passes defended, and 2 interceptions.[10]


Professional football

At the NFL Scouting Combine of 2000, Davis ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds.[11] The Tennessee Titans signed Davis as an undrafted free agent on April 18, 2000 after the 2000 NFL Draft.[10] Davis was cut after training camp.[10]

In 2001, the Titans allocated Davis to the NFL Europe team Berlin Thunder. Starting all 10 games as left cornerback, Davis wore jersey number 23[12] and led Berlin with 57 tackles in the season and won World Bowl IX with the team. Davis also made 0.5 sack, 1 interception, and 5 passes defended. After the NFL Europe season, Davis spent the 2001 preseason in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks.[10]

Davis was selected in the first round of the 2002 NFL Europe allocation draft by the Barcelona Dragons.[10] In 2002 with Barcelona, Davis wore jersey number 25[13] and made 41 tackles, 6 passes defended, and 5 special teams tackles.[14]

Wearing jersey number 42,[13] Davis returned to the Tennessee Titans in 2002 for training camp and preseason but was cut before the regular season.[15] In 2003, he participated in training camp with the Washington Redskins and wore jersey #36 but retired from football due to a leg injury.[2][16]

Activism, teaching, public speaking and campaigns

His activism, work and story has been featured in The Washington Post,[17] CNN,[18] Al Jazeera America,[19] NPR,[20] WBUR,[21] USA Today,[22] Ebony Magazine,[23] People Magazine,[24] BET,[25] Outsports,[26] and Bleacher Report.[27]

In 2014, Davis joined NYU School of Professional Studies Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business as adjunct faculty.[28]

Davis joined the Advisory Board for You Can Play, an organization dedicated to fighting homophobia in professional sports.[29] On August 20, 2013, he was named executive director of the organization.[30]

Davis co-founded, with Darnell L. Moore, the YOU Belong Initiative, an organization offering LGBTQ and straight allied youth a three-day, comprehensive sports instruction and leadership development clinic.[31] As part of YOU Belong, Davis also began the Speaker's Collective, aimed at providing support, promotion and sense of community for LGBTQ professionals of color.[32]

His most recent campaign, created alongside Darnell L. Moore, "#ThisIsLuv" highlights LGBT love in the Black community.[33][34]


His writing has appeared in The Huffington Post,[35][36][37] The New York Times, Outsports, Sports Illustrated,[38][39] The Advocate[40][41] and the Guardian.[42]

Davis's contributions are included in the book, For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough: Coming of Age, Coming Out, and Coming Home by Keith Boykin.[43] His memoir, Interference, is scheduled to be released in Winter 2015.[44] The memoir will chronicle his struggles growing up in a strict religious household and working and advocating for LGBTQ rights.[45]

Affiliations and memberships

Davis was recently appointed to the board of GMHC.[46]

Davis is also a supporter of President Barack Obama[47] and a member of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network sport-advisory board.[48]

Awards and honors

  • Davis received an honorary Doctorate of Public Service from Northeastern University for his leadership and ongoing efforts to eradicate homophobia and sexism in athletics, 2014.[49]
  • Named one of the 50 Black LGBT Adults That Black LGBT Youth Should Know. 2012, National Youth Pride Services.[50]
  • Wade Davis, named #46 on The Root 100, Black influencers and achievers, in ranked order.[51]
  • Audre Lorde Founder's Award, Hispanic and Black Gay Coalition, 2012.[52]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Wade Davis biography". Tennessee Titans. Archived from the original on June 21, 2002.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Zeigler Jr., Cyd (June 5, 2012). "Wade Davis Talks for the First Time About Being Gay, Working with LGBT Youth". Outsports. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  3. Staff (June 7, 2012). "Gay NFL Player Wade Davis Kept Secret, Feared Locker Room Impact". Associated Press (via AOL Sports). Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  4. Smith, Stephen (June 6, 2012). "Former NFL Player Wade Davis I Went to Strip Club to Hide from Being Gay". CBS News. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  5. Penn State News, Athletics to host discussion on You Can Play, inclusion in sports, October 23, 2014.
  6. Samantha Neuber, Stanford Cal Athletes Unite for LGBT Inclusion Event, Stanford Daily, January 30, 2014.
  7. The Huffington Post, Wade Davis II.
  8. Moore, Darnell (June 22, 2012). "Wade Davis Jr. Former NFL Player Turned LGBT Advocate – The Football Hero-Turned Educator Discusses His Journey from the Closet to the Front Lines". Ebony. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  9. Hamrick, Jeff (September 7, 2000). "Safety Gamble is a tad short". Denver Post. Retrieved April 30, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 "Wade Davis". NFL Europe. Archived from the original on February 10, 2003.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Wade Davis prospect biography". ESPN. Archived from the original on September 9, 2001.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "NFL EUROPE in association with Sportsline.com". Web.archive.org. 2001-08-11. Archived from the original on August 11, 2001. Retrieved 2015-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 "NFL EUROPE in association with Sportsline.com". Web.archive.org. 2002-06-01. Archived from the original on June 1, 2002. Retrieved 2015-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "NFL EUROPE in association with Sportsline.com". Web.archive.org. 2003-02-10. Archived from the original on February 10, 2003. Retrieved 2015-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Ex-Titans CB Wade Davis comes out". espn.com. Associated Press. June 7, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Washington Redskins". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on August 3, 2003. Retrieved 2015-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Kent Babb, Wade Davis, a former Redskins player turned gay rights activist, worked with NFL on Michael Sam announcement, Washington Post, February 17, 2014.
  18. Soledad O’Brien, Former NFL player Wade Davis says it 'was very, very lonely' being closeted while playing, June 6, 2012.
  19. Jessica Taff, Out on the field: Former NFL player Wade Davis opens up, Al Jazeera America, May 12, 2014.
  20. All Things Considered, A Shifting Playing Field: Coming Out As A Gay Athlete, October 13, 2012.
  21. Here & Now, Ex-NFLer Wade Davis: League Is Ready For Gay Player, February 12, 2014.
  22. Lindsay H. Jones, Owners embrace Wade Davis' message on respect for gay players, USA Today, March 25, 2014.
  23. Darnell L. Moore, Exclusive: Wade Davis, Jr: Former NFL Player Turned LGBT Advocate, Ebony, June 22, 2012.
  24. Jeff Truesdell, Gay Former NFL Player Wade Davis: Out Youth Taught Me to Be Fearless, May 17, 2014.
  25. News Exclusives: Wade Davis Fights for Gay Rights (Part 1), June 15, 2012.
  26. Cyd Zeigler, Wade Davis talks for the first time about being gay in the NFL, working with LGBTQ youth, Outsports, Jun 5, 2012.
  27. Mike Freeman, NFL Draft: How Wade Davis and Others Paved the Way for Michael Sam, Bleacher Report, Apr 23, 2014.
  28. Wade Davis, Retired NFL Player, Joins NYU School of Professional Studies Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business as an Adjunct Faculty Member.
  29. "Davis, Kahrl and Tuaolo Join You Can Play Advisory Board". The You Can Play Project. Retrieved 28 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "Wade Davis, Out Gay Former NFL Player, Will Lead Group Promoting LGBT Equality In Sports". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 28 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. YOU Belong Initiative Sports Camp.
  32. YOU Belong Initiative, Speaker's Collective.
  33. "#ThisisLuvHighlights LGBT Love and Acceptance - Black Listed". EBONY. 2015-02-16. Retrieved 2015-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. Wade Davis II, #ThisIsLuv: Black Families+LGBT People= Love, February 16, 2015.
  35. Wade Davis, Coming Out: Is It All About You? Huff Post, October 11, 2012.
  36. Wade Davis and Darnell L. Moore, Tongues Untied: On 'Barbershop Conversations,' Black Masculinity, and Sexuality, Huff Post Gay Voices, July 27, 2012.
  37. Wade Davis, An Open Letter to Young LGBT Athletes, Huff Post Gay Voices, June 21, 2012.
  38. Wade Davis, The Bravest of All, Michael Sam Moves Us Forward, SI.com, Feb. 10, 2014.
  39. Wade Davis, Only Love Drives Out Hate, SI.com, Jul. 24, 2014.
  40. Wade Davis, Op-ed: How the NFL Is Tackling LGBT Issues, The Advocate, January 31, 2014.
  41. Wade Davis, Op-ed: How Straight Silence Betrays Gay Teammates, The Advocate, February 1, 2013.
  42. Wade Davis, Why is everyone so afraid of the NFL's first openly gay star? The Guardian, February 11, 2014.
  43. Keith Boykin,For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough: Coming of Age, Coming Out, and Coming Home (Magnus Books, 2012). ISBN 1936833158.
  44. "Biography". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2015-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  45. The Leadership Lecture Series at the Burney Center at UNCW: Wade Davis, October 6, 2014.
  46. Press Release: GMHC Expands Leadership, February 3, 2015.
  47. Opalewski, Kate (June 7, 2012). "Wade Davis Out for Obama – Former Out NFL Player on Paying It Forward". Between the Lines (via PrideSource). Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  48. The GLSEN Sports Project, Changing the Game Advisory Group: "Wade Davis". Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
  49. News at Northeastern, Northeastern announces 2014 honorary degree recipients, April 4, 2014.
  50. Staff (September 18, 2013). "50 Black LGBT Adults Every Black LGBT Youth Should Know – #2 Wade Davis". National Youth Pride Services. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  51. Holloway, Lynette (undated). "2012 The Root 100 – Wade Davis II Is an Ex-NFL Player Who Came Out of the Closet to Help Gay Athletes and Youths". The Root. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  52. Dan Meyer, HBGC Honors NFL’s Wade Davis, Jr., Nov 23, 2012.

External links