Thomas Davis says player's character should factor into suspensions

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis would like to see the NFL take a player's character into consideration when issuing penalties such as the four-game suspension he'll serve to start this season.

The 2014 NFL Man of the Year for his community work with kids learned in April that he violated the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs for a failed test at the end of last season.

He immediately recorded a video that he released on social media, claiming the failed test season came from an estrogen blocker he'd taken the past seven to eight seasons without issue.

"The NFL has a tough job on their hands when you think about assessing fines, assessing punishment for certain things," Davis said on Monday as the Panthers broke training camp at Wofford College. "I mean, you would like to think they would take into consideration the player and what the guy has done over his career, but that's not a part of what goes into it.

"Ultimately, the rules says we're responsible for what we put in our bodies. I've just got to do a better job of understanding what's in the things I'm taking."

Davis, 35, now has every substance he's considering tested by the team before using it. He never had the substance that landed him the suspension tested, even though the NFL and team encourages players to have every substance tested.

"Once you take something for eight or nine years and you never have any issues, you never feel it's going to be a problem until it's a problem," Davis said.

Davis announced after last season that 2018 would be his last. The suspension made him rethink that, and he wants to play another year if the Panthers want him back.

That decision likely won't be made until after the season so the Panthers and Davis can see where the three-time Pro Bowl selection is in terms of health and desire to extend his career.

Just in case this was Davis' final camp, he spent more than hour signing autographs after Monday's practice.

"It's one of those things where you try to truly embrace everything without really understanding and knowing what your future holds," Davis said. "You try to take it all in and really just enjoy the moment.

"For me, I try not to think about [this possibly being my last camp], but it's something that crosses my mind all the time."

If it is his last camp, Davis leaves feeling the Panthers have a chance to make another run at the Super Bowl as they did in the 2015 season.

"The talent level," Davis said of a Carolina team that has increased its team speed and depth since going 11-5 last year. "When you look at the talent level on this team across the board, I feel we're much further ahead now than we were last season at this point."