Anthony Davis: The Star No One Wanted
Anthony Davis is remembered for his spectacular college football career at USC and for an unfulfilled pro career that spanned four separate leagues. He led the USC Trojans in rushing, scoring, and kick returns for three straight seasons (1972-1974) but he is most remembered for scoring 11 touchdowns in 3 games vs. Notre Dame. He finished off his final season with an outstanding performance vs. Notre Dame where the Trojans were down 24–0 and Davis scored four touchdowns to win 55–24. Unfortunately for him, the Heisman Trophy ballots were due prior to the victory over Notre Dame and he consequently finished second to Archie Griffin in the voting. After this small injustice, Heisman Trophy balloting would take place after all regular season games had been played. He was also a key member of the USC’s 1972, 1973 and 1974 College World Series. With two football championships, he was a part of five college championship teams.
After his senior season, Davis was drafted by both the New York Jets and by the Minnesota Twins. Wanting to play for the Rams, Davis and the Jets could not agree on a contract. The rap on Davis was that he was too small to play in the NFL, which was why he slipped to the second round in the NFL draft. He also rejected the Twins, not believing they could come close to his salary demands. The WFL made a strong run for him and offered him a $1.7 million contract with a $200,000 bonus. He couldn’t turn it down and he delivered the goods.
Davis had a huge season with the Southern California Sun rushing for 1,200 yards and scoring 16 touchdowns in only 12 games. The Sun, with the surging play of Davis and veteran leadership of Daryl Lamonica, Don Shy, Bill Kramer, and Dave Roller looked like one of the toughest team in the league when the WFL folded midway through the 1975 season.
Out of a job and the failed Jets negotiation fresh in his mind, Davis avoided the NFL and began to talk to the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. He signed with the Argos, becoming the CFL’s first “million dollar man.” The CFL was not a good fit as Davis’ ego clashed with coach Russ Jackson. After rushing 104 times for 408 yards and scoring four touchdowns, he left the CFL to try out the NFL. Having selected him in the expansion draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had one thing go their way when Dave became available. Unfortunately, his time there was not productive as he lasted only one season, rushing for a measly 297 yards with one touchdown. Short stints with the Oilers and Rams put a temporary cap on his pro career.
In 1983, he signed with the new United States Football League with the LA Express and somewhat of a player-coach, and helped to promote the new league. Though he made little impact, his time in the USFL made him the only player to have played professionally in four football leagues. He wound up as a real estate developer after acting in several films including Two Minute Warning with Charlton Heston, Loose Shoes with Bill Murray plus TV programs Roots, Buck Rogers In the 25th Century, and Hotel, among others. RetroCards honors Anthony Davis with several custom cards that never were.