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he square next to “football player” is marked, but don’t box in Demario Davis. If you do, you’re cheating him — and yourself. True, Davis indeed is a football player, and a very good one at that — good enough that the Saints coveted him as a free agent following his 2017 season, one in which he led the Jets with a career-high 165 tackles, to go along with five sacks, three passes defensed and a fumble recovery. He has played to a level that justifies the three-year deal he signed

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with New Orleans in March. Entering today’s game against the Rams in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Davis leads the Saints with 55 tackles, and has tossed in two sacks, one pass defensed and a forced fumble. But don’t sleep on the “woke” Davis, whose depth won’t allow for confinement to the shallow. Extraordinary football player? Yes. Socially conscious community leader? Absolutely. Which is why, possibly, Davis treasures the In Pursuit of Justice Award, presented

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to him on Oct. 11 by the Bronx Defenders, even more than he enjoyed capturing NFC Defensive Player of the Week following a two-sack, 11-tackle performance against the Giants on Sept. 30. The Bronx Defenders is a public defender nonprofit dedicated to representing lowincome people in the Bronx. Davis allied with the group when he played with the Jets. “In my eyes, what we do on a football field is very small compared to what’s going on outside the field,” Davis said. “What we provide for people (via football) is a few hours of entertainment. “But peoples’ lives are being affected every day, and in a situation where these people can’t help themselves. I feel like we’re in a position to bring light to these issues and kind of help these issues. I think we’re looked at in society as being leaders, so we try to lead and show how we should respond to these issues. And hopefully, that encourages others to do the same.” It’ll take some doing to catch up to Davis’ lead. The seven-year veteran, who prepped at Brandon (Miss.) High and earned his bachelor’s degree in communications at Arkansas State, founded the Devoted Dreamers Foundation. Devoted Dreamers attempts to equip the next generation of leaders — entertainers, athletes, politicians, doctors, lawyers, etc. — with the tools to be successful spiritually, mentally and physically. Davis also hosts annual youth summer camps in Brandon. Also, he supports legislation to restore voting rights to some felons in Louisiana. He champions bail reform, noting that 70 percent of people in jail have not been convicted of a crime but are incarcerated because of the inability to produce a cash bail. He has been able to garner support from the league and from team owners — Saints owner Gayle Benson and Jets owner Chris Johnson attended the Bronx Defender gala when Davis was presented his award — in the pursuit of social justice. With good will toward Davis’ efforts, Benson has met with city leaders on reform and feels it is important as an owner to support Saints players. “What we’re doing in the community, especially around social justice, just to be able to have the support of the league — commissioner, team owners — they don’t have to do that,” Davis said. “For them to be behind us

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New Orleans Saints Gameday | New Orleans Saints Vs Los Angeles Rams | Sunday, November 4, 2018  

New Orleans Saints Gameday | New Orleans Saints Vs Los Angeles Rams | Sunday, November 4, 2018