Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David took a big hit this offseason when he was cut by Tampa Bay . After leading the league in tackles in each of his first two seasons, David was deemed expendable by the Buccaneers as they reshaped their roster for 2017 — a year they hope to finally hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Lavonte David seemed like he was going to be a household name in the NFL. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ standout linebacker was a first-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and was quickly becoming one of the league’s most feared players. ^^^
As far as NFL players go, Lavonte David is one of the more interesting and well-respected players, he has a very unique personality and I think he is appreciated by both his fans and his teammates. Despite being a talented player, Lavonte David has been quiet and reserved, willing to remain in the shadows and let his play on the field do the talking. That all changed this offseason, however, when the Buccaneers selected defensive end Noah Spence with the 16th overall pick in this year’s draft.
Lavonte David joined the NFL as an intriguing talent with Pro Bowl potential. As the veteran linebacker begins his 10th season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it’s obvious that the reigning Super Bowl winners made the correct decision in selecting him with the 58th overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft. The 31-year-old has achieved just about everything imaginable in the pro football world since leaving Nebraska, with three All-Pro choices on his résumé and a new Super Bowl ring at home.
Unfortunately for David, the joy of winning his first championship was soon overshadowed by the agony of losing a loved one during his rollercoaster offseason.
Lavonte David’s first playoff appearance resulted with the ultimate reward.
David has been a real sideline-to-sideline force since he first walked onto an NFL field, punishing ball-carriers, pass-catchers, and quarterbacks. With 4.65 speed out of college, the 6-foot-1, 233-pound linebacker wasted no time demonstrating why the Buccaneers selected him in the second round. In his debut season with the NFC South club, David led the team with 139 tackles (including 20 for loss).
Of all, his outstanding first season only laid the scene for future success.
David has regularly filled the stat sheet since his debut in 2012, while also acting as the undisputed leader of Tampa’s defense. He earned a reputation as one of the greatest players at his position because of his ability to analyze moves and close quickly. The Buccaneers never reached the playoffs in David’s first eight years with the club, despite his individual excellence.
Tom Brady came last spring, which was fortunate for the veteran linebacker.
Bruce Arians’ team went from finishing 7-9 to winning a championship after the GOAT took over for the turnover-prone Jameis Winston. While Brady turned up a rock-solid, error-free performance in Super Bowl 55, David and the defense saved their finest performance for last. The Buccaneers provided constant pressure to Patrick Mahomes and a powerful Kansas City Chiefs offense, making life tough for the league’s most physically talented quarterback.
Tampa’s powerful front seven proved to be too much to overcome in the end. By the time the final whistle blew, David and the rest of his teammates had the opportunity to lift the Lombardi Trophy in front of a raucous Raymond James Stadium audience.
During an up-and-down offseason, David experienced a devastating loss.
Linebacker Lavonte David of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gestures to the fans before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2020 NFL season. | Getty Images/Mike Ehrmann
David approached the offseason as a champion in need of a new contract after an amazing season. Despite being beyond 30, he was offered a two-year, $25 million contract with a guaranteed $20 million. Needless to say, the Buccaneers made certain to protect one of their own, as well as one of their most regarded players.
David’s life, however, took a tragic turn a few months after he obtained long-term financial stability.
According to the Tampa Bay Times’ Joey Knight, the team’s veteran defensive coordinator informed reporters on Monday that his father, Edward Nelson, died of liver cancer this offseason.
“Everything was at an all-time high, and then everything suddenly flipped around,” David said.
Nelson died five months after his son won the title and two months after David graduated from the University of Nebraska. Lynette David, the linebacker’s mother, died more than five years ago. David kept a promise to his mother by obtaining his criminal justice degree, which he earned at a ceremony on Mother’s Day Weekend.
The loss of his father was a devastating blow for the hard-hitting linebacker, but he will always be grateful to Nelson for his unwavering support going back to his boyhood.
“The good news is that he enjoyed watching me play football,” David said. “Ever since I was in little league, he’s been there for me – at every football game, every practice. So it gives me great pleasure to walk out here knowing that he assisted me in getting to this point, and I know he’s still keeping an eye on me while he’s up there.”
Expect the great linebacker to get a second Super Bowl ring sooner rather than later.
David has undoubtedly had highs and lows in 2021.
On the one hand, he got his bachelor’s degree while also winning a Super Bowl ring and signing a $25 million contract deal. None of these accomplishments, however, can compensate for the loss of a parent. David may no longer rely on his father to cheer him on as he begins his 10th NFL season, but he can count on the full support of a Buccaneers fan base ready for TB12 to make winning a tradition in Tampa, too.
The defending champions now have all 22 starters back in the lineup, giving them everything they need to defend their championship. Furthermore, with Brady’s problematic left knee no longer a concern, the Buccaneers may be able to improve on their 11-5 regular-season record from last year. They should easily win an NFC South division that no longer contains Drew Brees if their best players stay healthy.
In fact, no club in the league should be able to stop the Buccaneers from winning back-to-back championships if they play to their full potential. Lavonte David seems dangerously close to becoming a multiple-time Super Bowl winner after waiting almost a decade to earn his first ring.
Pro Football Reference provided all statistics. Spotrac provided all contract information.
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