Heading Into College Football Hall Of Fame, Davis Feels Blessed To Be Remembered

Aug. 11, 2006

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Anthony Davis doesn't mind that he was booed by thousands of Notre Dame fans at the Southern California game in October.

'I took it as a sign of respect. The fact that more than 30 years later they still remember me. I feel blessed,' he said. 'I don't feel offended at all.'

Still, the former USC tailback who scored six touchdowns against the Irish in 1972 and four in 1974 is hoping for a little warmer reception from those attending the College Football Hall of Fame enshrinement dinner Saturday.

Davis is among 20 college greats being honored at the hall, including former Mississippi Valley State receiver Jerry Rice, Alabama linebacker Cornelius Bennett, Oklahoma running back Joe Washington, Texas fullback Roosevelt Leaks and Pittsburgh tackle Mark May.

Davis finished second to Ohio State's Archie Griffin in voting for the Heisman Trophy in 1974 and still ranks third on USC's career rushing list with 3,724 yards. His best memories, though, are his games against the Irish. He included the phrase 'Notre Dame Killer' when signing autographs Friday at a hall golf outing.

In the 1974 game against Notre Dame, with USC trailing 24-0, Davis caught a 7-yard pass for a touchdown with 10 seconds left in the first half. He opened the second half with a 102-yard kickoff return and scored twice more in the half to spark the Trojans to a 55-24 victory.

'To me, it's the greatest collegiate rivalry because of its long history, all the great coaches and players and all the Heisman Trophy winners on both sides,' he said.

In the three years Davis started at tailback at USC, the winner of the game won the national championship twice (USC in 1972, Notre Dame in 1973) and finished No. 2 once - although the Trojans finished first in the coaches' poll in 1974.

Davis was glad to see Notre Dame give the Trojans a tough game again last year.

'When SC and Notre Dame are down, there's something missing in college football,' he said. 'The fact that they're back is great.'

Davis, who had an injury-shortened pro career, is feeling great about his comeback, too. After ballooning to 300 pounds, the 5-foot-10 Davis underwent gastric bypass surgery in March and is down to 215 pounds, just 10 pounds over his playing weight.

'I feel like I can run now,' he said.

He looks like it, too. Wearing a tight-fitting shirt, Davis didn't look Friday like a man who was obese five months ago. He has an athletic build, especially for a 53-year-old man.

'I'm fortunate,' he said. 'I believe by September I'll be 200 pounds.'

Davis, who is in real estate development now, said he underwent the surgery because of sleep apnea, which can be lethal. For two years he wore a device over his nose while sleeping that supplied pressurized air through a flexible tube to prevent his airway from collapsing.

Davis said he was spurred to action in part because of the December 2004 death of former NFL great Reggie White, who suffered from sleep apnea and sarcoidosis.

He is trying to promote the dangers of obesity, especially to the black community. To promote the gastric bypass procedure, he allowed his surgery to be cybercast live. He wants other people to be aware of its benefits.

'I'm just glad I'm healthy again,' he said. 'I believe this is why I'm still living here today. It saved my life.'

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