The Margin: Game over, man: NFL player abruptly retires at halftime

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It’s not often you see a professional athlete quit and go home in the middle of a game.

But that’s what Buffalo Bills cornerback Vontae Davis did Sunday, abruptly retiring at halftime, leaving many of his teammates stunned.

“[He] pulled himself out of the game,” Bills coach Sean McDermott told reporters after the game. “He communicated to us that he was done.” ESPN reported that Davis changed into his street clothes at halftime and left the stadium.

Davis, a 10-year NFL veteran, said his body was no longer up to the task, and said he meant no disrespect.

“Today on the field, reality hit me fast and hard: I shouldn’t be out there anymore,” he said in a statement. “I meant no disrespect to my teammates and coaches. But I hold myself to a standard. Mentally, I always expect myself to play at a high level. But physically, I know today that isn’t possible, and I had an honest moment with myself. While I was on the field, I just didn’t feel right, and I told the coaches, ‘I’m not feeling like myself.’”

At the time, the Bills were losing 28-6 to the Los Angeles Chargers. They eventually lost 31-20. Last week, the Bills were blown out in their season opener, losing 47-3 to the Baltimore Ravens. Davis was inactive for the Ravens game, but started Sunday and made two tackles.

His teammates were left angry and in shock.

“I think I did lose a little respect for him as a man,” safety Rafael Bush told the Buffalo Democrat and Chronicle. “In this game, we’re always taught to fight to the end, and for you to give up on your teammates in the middle of the game, I’ve never seen anything like that.”

“I don’t have nothing to say about Vontae,” linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said after the game, ESPN reported. “I’m going to give him a little bit more respect than he showed us today, as far as quitting on us in the middle of the game.”

Davis signed a one-year contract with the Bills in February, with $2 million fully guaranteed, along with a $1.5 million signing bonus. He missed most of last season with a serious groin injury and had struggled during the preseason.