Guy's bond with Davila transcends football field
Never was that more apparent than in the head coach's postgame press conference following the Rattlers' 51-42 win over the San Jose SaberCats on Saturday night.
Guy, his eyes welling up with emotion, talked about the difficult week that saw Davila lose his father just a day before the crucial National Conference showdown.
“He's my guy,” Guy said of Davila. “I care about him as a person. He needs to be strong for his family, and we are going to let him do what he needs to do. I told him not to worry about it – we have your back.”
Presented with a very challenging situation, Guy made the call that Davila would not play against the SaberCats.
“It was about Nick and his mental state,” he explained. “To find out you lost your father a day before, that's extremely tough. As a competitor, I knew he wanted to play, but Nick just didn't have the time this week to get dialed into the game plan.”
But sometimes in the heat of battle, plans change. Presented with multiple injuries and needing a spark, Guy made the decision in the third quarter to replace starting quarterback Jason Murrietta.
More than 12,000 members of Rattler Nation, some who made supportive signs for Davila, exploded when the veteran signal caller jogged onto the turf at the Snake Pit.
“Sudden change,” Guy said when asked why he decided to call on Davila. “There's a comfort zone having Nick in there. He's our leader.”
Davila, playing with an extremely heavy heart, did not miss a beat. Continuing his MVP push, Davila finished the game with four touchdown passes and no interceptions to spark his team to the nine-point win. The victory clinched the Western Division title and kept the Rattlers undefeated at 11-0. The team has won 15 straight dating back to last season and is one win short of tying the best start to a season in Arena Football League history.
“I'm extremely proud of how all of our guys banded together,” Guy said. “This was a big win under tough circumstances.”
Davila was understandably emotional Saturday night when the final horn sounded. To demonstrate what brotherhood exists within the AFL, several SaberCats players came to comfort the Arizona quarterback before Davila's teammates joined him near midfield. The CBS Sports Network game broadcast ended with an incredible shot of Davila embracing his family members who were in the front row of the stands.
Davila traveled back to California this week for his dad's funeral. Guy indicated he was looking into attending as well to provide emotional support for his franchise player and friend.
With a short week to prepare for a road matchup against the Portland Thunder, Guy is hoping football will provide at least a small distraction during a difficult time.
“We had a lot of adversity off the field this week but we have great leaders on this team,” Guy said. “We're going to be fine.”
Matt Loeschman is the business editor/city reporter at the Williamson County Sun and a color commentator for SHN Sports in Georgetown, Texas. As a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, he bleeds burnt orange but is also an avid fan of the Arizona Rattlers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Stars, Texas Stars, Houston Rockets, Houston Dynamo and Austin Aztex. With nearly 20 years of experience in print journalism and radio, Matt has covered sports ranging from high school to the pros along with local news. He has followed the AFL since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter @MattLoeschman.