NFL: 49ers’ Davis to be honorary US curling captain
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Vernon Davis is headed to his first Pro Bowl and his first Olympics, too.
The star San Francisco 49ers tight end will be an honorary captain for the U.S. men’s curling team next month at the Vancouver Olympics. The opportunity came about after Davis gave curling a try in November and loved it.
“We’re definitely honored to have someone of his talent stepping out of his normal space on the football field to help him support the sport of curling,” Rick Patzke, USA Curling’s chief operating officer, said in a phone interview Thursday.
“Everything I’m reading, his talent on the field speaks for himself, but it’s inspiring to see what he’s doing outside of football, giving back in all the causes he’s supporting — including curling.”
Davis, who last Sunday tied Antonio Gates’ NFL record for touchdowns by a tight end with 13, shot several curling public service announcements this week at 49ers team headquarters and with the San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club at the San Jose Sharks’ practice ice. Those PSAs will be used at curling clubs around the country to help promote the sport’s growth, Patzke said.
As part of his gig, Davis will meet the team and experience life in the Olympic Village, attend a match in Vancouver to support the Americans, get to enjoy a VIP curling experience at the Vancouver Curling Club and receive a one-day pass to the U.S. Olympic Committee’s USA House.
The 25-year-old Davis finished his fourth NFL season with career highs of 78 catches and 965 yards.
This is a first for the curling team to carry an honorary captain.
“It’s a great opportunity for the sport to have a Pro Bowl-type athlete interested in our sport,” U.S. coach Phill Drobnick said. “We’re really excited to interact with someone who has worked so hard to raise his level of play in his sport and become undoubtedly one of the best tight ends in the NFL. This is definitely something great for the sport of curling, and the team looks forward to seeing him in Vancouver.”
U.S. skip, or captain, John Shuster is headed back to the Olympics after capturing a bronze medal at the 2006 Turin Games — the first ever American medal in the sport and first in a major men’s competition since 1978.