Bill Althaus: Blue Springs grad Davis enjoys 'greatest week of my life'
Kelly Donohoe, the Hall of Fame football coach and former coach at Blue Springs High School, and I were walking on the old grass practice field eight years ago when he pointed in the direction of two young men who were so big their profiles blocked the sun.
“See those two big studs over there,” Donohoe said, grinning, “they can stand flat-footed and do a backflip!”
That was my first introduction to the Davis twins – Khalil and Carlos – who went on to become arguably two of the greatest athletes in Wildcats football and track and field history.
Before they left the purple and gold, they had two state championships in football, two team state titles in track and field and were ranked No. 1 and 2 in the state in the discus.
They earned scholarships to their dream school, the University of Nebraska, following in their uncle’s footsteps, and were each drafted into the NFL on the same day – Khalil being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carlos by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The only thing more impressive than their athletic prowess was their humble nature, love of family and that rare ability to fit in comfortably with any crowd.
If you happened to walk down the hallways of Blue Springs High School when they ruled the roost, they were like twin pied pipers – leading a charge of student council representatives, theater students and every fellow Wildcat who wanted to breathe the same rarified air.
“That’s what we loved about them,” Donohoe said. “They had a sweetness about them. But once they stepped on the football field, something changed. They were able to turn on that football switch and they were something to watch.”
They grew up as Chiefs fans as the NFL team played in their backyard – a Patrick Mahomes’ throw from their home in Blue Springs.
But that love of crimson and gold and the Chiefs Kingdom changed a few weeks ago when Khalil’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers played host to the Chiefs in Super Bowl 55.
“All my life I loved the Chiefs,” said Khalil, who was on the Tampa Bay roster but did not dress for the Buccaneers’ 31-9 victory over Kansas City. “But not this season. For the first time in NFL history, the host city’s team played in the game and it was the greatest week of my life!”
And he wanted to make sure it was the greatest week of his parents’ lives, too, as he brought his dad Carl and mom Tracy to Tampa Bay, set them up in an Airbnb and gave them a pair of tickets to the big game (please see related story).
Khalil’s sisters also made the trip, and so did Carlos, whose Steelers were eliminated in the first round of the AFC playoffs by Cleveland.
“It’s icy and snowing back in Kansas City and I was able to bring my family down to the tropical paradise of Tampa Bay and we had such a good time,” Khalil said. “I’ll be honest with you. I felt like I’d won the lottery. I really did.”
He and Carlos actually won the lottery when they were adopted as infants by Carl and Tracy Davis, and the sacrifices they made for their growing boys were rewarded once their sons entered the NFL.
“We’d do anything for our parents, and this week, it was my turn to treat everyone to a great time,” Khalil said. “We went out on the ocean, took a cruise. They say money can’t buy happiness, and I agree with that.
“But it can help you make the most important people in your life happy – and that was the best thing about the week my family was down there. We were all so happy.”
As his parents watched from the field, sporting the type of smiles reserved for moms and dads whose son has just won the Super Bowl, Khalil patiently waited his turn to grab hold of the Super Bowl trophy.
“Even though I didn’t play, I had to hold that trophy, just once, just for a minute,” Khalil said, “and I can’t even tell you what that moment was like. I don’t even have the words to describe the feeling.”
As he walked around the field, confetti flying and hearts pounding, All-Pro defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh approached Khalil.
“Little brother, enjoy the moment,” said Suh, one of the Buccaneers who was happy to share wisdom with the eager newcomer, “because this doesn’t happen every day.”
It was Suh’s first Super Bowl appearance and title in a standout 11-year NFL career.
“When Carlos and I were young, our goal was to play football in college and then play in the NFL,” Khalil said. “After holding that Super Bowl trophy, I have a new goal. I want to be a big part of a Tampa Bay team that wins a Super Bowl. I want to be out on the field, and play in the big game.
“That’s the only way that moment could have been better.”
Oh, and by the way, Carlos and Khalil – who is listed as 6-foot-1, 309 pounds – can still do that impressive back flip. Maybe one day we’ll see one of them do it holding a Super Bowl trophy.
Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816-350-6333. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC