He is a six-time captain, and he is an instrumental part of his team’s defense.
At 31 years old, linebacker Lavonte David is showing no real signs of slowing down, as he prepares for this weekend’s Super Bowl before hitting the free-agency market.
SI All Lions had the opportunity to catch up with David on Wednesday evening, along with his performance coach Cliff Brown from Athlete Innovations, courtesy of aspiring NFL agent Eric Merrida.
“Right now, I’m just focused on finishing the year strong,” David said. “Obviously, I want to be a Buc for the rest of my career, but you never know how things go. We’ll just figure it out whenever that time gets here. I’m always hopeful and optimistic for whatever happens. I’m just going to leave it in God’s hands and stay positive as always.
"(I'm) trying to win the city a championship that’s been long overdue, and definitely I’ll be looking forward to that. Whenever free agency comes, we are going to take it one day at a time. Me and my people on my side are going to talk things out and see how everything goes. But, everything is positive, positive on both ends. So, I’m very optimistic, and we’re going to go from there.”
David stated that following the "Big Game," he might take a couple of weeks off to recover and reflect on his blessings, before getting back to work with Brown (the former assistant strength coach with the Cincinnati Bengals from 2016-17).
Brown works with David on his strength and speed five days a week, and shared he has known David for a little over a year.
“He has a great sense of humor,” Brown explained. “Even if the work is hard, he keeps the atmosphere light. He is a pretty easy going guy. He’s a leader, I call him, ‘The General.’ I just feel he has a leading personality, because he understands his role not only with the team, but also with this community, as well. He always just tries to put his best foot forward.”
David is a “consistent guy,” too, according to Brown, who said, “When it’s time to get something done, when it’s go time, he’s in. He’s in that elite club for a reason.”
Brown further expressed that he has also seen leadership ability come out of David when working within groups.
“He [David] wants to go first, making sure the drills are finished, encouraging guys on, understanding what everyone’s mission is in the room," Brown said. "He’s always cheering guys on. He’s always supportive of guys. He’s always been the type of guy to pull someone else along. That’s one of the things I’ve noticed about him. He always wants to keep the camaraderie high. I’ve seen how guys surround him and respond to him, (and) that’s why I call him 'The General.'”
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Brown shared that David has also shown the ability to adapt to a different kind of training regimen than he was previously accustomed to, which puts a different kind of stress on him. And, Brown stated that it shows up in David’s performance.
“Some day, I expect to see him in a gold jacket,” Brown commented.
While preparing for the biggest game on the NFL schedule, David also took the time to reflect on his team's deep run this season -- which has been his first opportunity to play in the playoffs in his nine-year career.
“I’m not getting any younger. So, I just have to stay ready and go from there,” said the Buccaneers defensive captain.
“I’m here to continue to provide hope and provide light. I grew up in Miami, Fla., in a poverty community, then making it out of there and then college, and going on and still trying to continue to chase my dreams and being in this position right now. It’s taken me nine years to get in the playoffs, and (in) the ninth year, I get to go all the way. So, I’m definitely humbled by that. The main thing I just try to stay with (is) positivity, as young people are coming up and the ones that are trying to follow in my footsteps.”
When asked if he had any final words to share, he stated, "I'm wishing everybody a happy Black History Month."
ILB #54 Lavonte David - 6-foot-1, 234 pounds
Grade: A (Blue-chip player and elite)
2020 film graded: All 148 profile plays on NFL Gamepass
Completely instinctual and dependable, three-down, 3-4 veteran inside linebacker who plays smart, with good athletic ability and range. He's a sure, punishing and jarring tackler. Plays hard, high motor, but calculated. Heady. Good football player. Reminds me a lot of London Fletcher. Has some play-making ability. Sees things extremely well. Keys, reads and diagnoses quickly inside. Weaves through trash, and shows a knack for staying clean and also has the ability to use his hands to sort through congestion and shed. Has range. Can get outside. Hunts it down. A closer. Able to shoot gaps to make tackles for loss. Lays the lumber. Pops pads. Able to cause fumbles. Can drop into zone, and provide dependable underneath support. Is like a blanket in man. Tight on screens. Can blitz and can get there (against GB).
Clearly understands the game, and shows visible fire and passion. Plays younger than he is. Not seeing much downside in full body of work, other than lacking second-gear speed in full-speed coverage. Impressive. Named Defensive Player of the Month in September.
Oftentimes, a story is best told by the words of the person of the hour, those who know the person well and by the things the scout is shown on film.
Detroit would be smart to push all its chips in on David.