SHELLMAN, GA (WALB) - Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis is one of the top players in the NFL at his position.
He's also one of the league's best role models.
Just over 24 hours after Carolina thumped the Falcons in Charlotte, Davis was back in his hometown of Shellman to make sure dozens of kids had a Christmas.
"We just went to Wal-Mart. We shopped and we bought everything that you see here today," Davis says, pointing out the thousands of dollars in toys. "It feels so much better when you know that you put energy, you put time, you put effort into making sure these kids have what they want for Christmas."
Kids were able to pick out any toy they wanted, from bicycles to remote control cars to Barbies and more. The former Randolph-Clay Red Devil says it's an honor to help those in his hometown.
"I love my city. I love being able to help the families we're going to be serving today," he says. "It's always important to give back. I'm a firm believer in that. That was taught to me at very early age."
It's that giving spirit that earned Davis the prestigious NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2014. He says receiving the honor has helped bring the work of his Defending Dreams Foundation to more people around the country.
"It just really shed light on the things we've been able to do," he says. "People started to take note and got more involved with the foundation, which is always good. The more people we have involved helping us out, the more work we can do in the community."
On the field, the 11-year vet is turning heads once again with possibly his best season to date.
The former Randolph-Clay star leads Carolina with 88 tackles and seems bound for his first ever Pro Bowl.
That is, if the 13-0 Panthers don't reach the Super Bowl.
Players for teams participating in the Super Bowl won't play in the NFL's all-star game to avoid injury. Davis says he'll gladly miss his first trip to the Pro Bowl if it means a shot at a title.
"Every player that plays this game, that's something you want to achieve," Davis says. "I'm no different. I definitely want to receive that recognition. But at the same time, I would not be disappointed if I don't get to play in that game this year."
The Panthers clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs with their win over Atlanta Sunday. Carolina is on the road to face the Giants next Sunday.