Wade Davis (American football)

Wade Davis
No. 23, 25, 42, 36
Personal information
Date of birth: (1977-07-28) July 28, 1977
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 in 2000
Debuted in 2001 for the Berlin Thunder
Career history
*Offseason and/or practice squad 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. 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. His writings and interviews have appeared in The Huffington Post, The New York Times and Outsports.

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.[5] 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][6]

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.[7]


Professional football

At the NFL Scouting Combine of 2000, Davis ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds.[8] The Tennessee Titans signed Davis as an undrafted free agent on April 18, 2000 after the 2000 NFL Draft.[7] Davis was cut after training camp.[7]

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[9] and led Berlin with 57 tackles in the season and would win 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.[7]

Davis was selected in the first round of the 2002 NFL Europe allocation draft by the Barcelona Dragons.[7] In 2002 with Barcelona, Davis wore jersey number 25[10] and made 41 tackles, 6 passes defended, and 5 special teams tackles.[11]

Wearing jersey number 42,[10] Davis returned to the Tennessee Titans in 2002 for training camp and preseason but was cut before the regular season.[12] 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][13]

Activism and other ventures

In February 2013, Davis joined the Advisory Board for You Can Play, an organization dedicated to fighting homophobia in professional sports.[14] On August 20, 2013, he was named executive director of the organization.[15]

Davis plays and serves on the board of the New York Gay Football League.[16] After knee injuries, Davis moved to New York to start the media company, InMotion.

Davis is also a supporter of President Barack Obama[17] and a member of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network sport-advisory board.[18]


Davis has spoken on his experience of the intersectionality of his identities as a Black, masculine, gay, NFL player.

For me, existing at the intersection of Black manhood, Black masculinity, sexuality and sports was the most dangerous place in the world. As an athlete you have to consistently prove yourself; as a Black male athlete, 'I' felt the pressure to consistently prove myself, my masculinity and my sexuality. I lived under a microscope, at least I thought, and I never had the opportunity to just be myself within the confines of a never-ending cycle of masculine performance. I was never alone. I was never able to relax. And I was never my authentic self. I felt so much pressure. Some of it was self-imposed and I was socialized to believe that pressure was part of the game. I knew I was expected to have sex with women, to engage in conversations that were, either, sexist, racist, or homophobic. I felt the need to prove that I belonged in that sports fraternity and that I was just as masculine as everyone else.

Awards and honors

  • Named one of the 50 Black LGBT Adults That Black LGBT Youth Should Know. 2012, National Youth Pride Services.[19]
  • Wade Davis, named #46 on The Root 100, Black influencers and achievers, in ranked order.[20]



  • "Tongues Untied: On 'Barbershop Conversations,' Black Masculinity, and Sexuality. Huff Post Gay Voices, July 27, 2012. with Darnell Moore.
  • An Open Letter to Young LGBT Athletes. Huff Post Gay Voices, June 21, 2012.


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.

  • 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 . 

His own book, Interference, is scheduled to be released in late 2013.[21] The book will detail Davis's journey from adolescence, to "coming out" and focusing on the relationship with his mother, playing in the NFL, working with LGBTQ youth and the Obama election.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Wade Davis biography". Tennessee Titans. Archived from the original on June 21, 2002. 
  2. ^ a b 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. ^ a b 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.
  6. ^ Hamrick, Jeff (September 7, 2000). "Safety Gamble is a tad short". Denver Post. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Wade Davis". NFL Europe. Archived from the original on February 10, 2003. 
  8. ^ "Wade Davis prospect biography". ESPN. Archived from the original on September 9, 2001. 
  9. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20010811091937/http://www.nfleurope.com/thunder/roster.html
  10. ^ a b http://web.archive.org/web/20020601170215/http://www.nfleurope.com/dragons/news/2002/dragons_finalroster.html
  11. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20030210190543/http://www.nfleurope.com/dragons/stats/2002/2002dragons_stats.html
  12. ^ Associated Press (June 7, 2012). "Ex-Titans CB Wade Davis comes out". espn.com. 
  13. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20030803121057/http://www.redskins.com/roster.asp
  14. ^ "Davis, Kahrl and Tuaolo Join You Can Play Advisory Board". The You Can Play Project. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  15. ^ "Wade Davis, Out Gay Former NFL Player, Will Lead Group Promoting LGBT Equality In Sports". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  16. ^ Staff (undated). [1]. New York Football League. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ The GLSEN Sports Project, Changing the Game Advisory Group: "Wade Davis". Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ Biography.

External links

  • Wade Davis at the Internet Movie Database
  • Staff (undated). "Wade Davis, Jr.". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  • Harosh, Alon (June 7, 2013). "Davis Says He Feared Coming Out Would Sink NFL Career". ABC News. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  • Boykin, Keith (June 7, 2012). "Wade Davis Comes Out on CNN". 4coloredboys.com. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  • Garcia, Michelle (August 14, 2012). "Football Player Wade Davis Helps Young Heroes Soar – Wade Davis Talks About Being Closeted in the NFL, Masculinity and Sport, and His Second Dream Job: Helping LGBT Youth". The Advocate. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
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