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Davila Chasing More Than History

Andy Lopusnak
Wednesday August 7, 2013

He’s the only player in the history of football to post at least 4,800 passing yards and 100 passing touchdowns in four straight seasons. And he’s done this in his first four AFL seasons. Add the most wins in a four-year span in league annuals, a League MVP and ArenaBowl MVP, and Nick Davila may have already penciled in his name for a future AFL Hall of Fame induction.

What Davila has done in four years is pretty unprecedented. The AFL is in its 26th season and he has already tied for the 11th most career passing touchdowns in league history. It's likely that he will move into eighth place by the end of 2014. No quarterback has ever thrown for as many yards or touchdowns in any four-year span as Davila.

Looking at the great gunslingers in league history, Davila joins only Mark Grieb as the only QBs to ever post 4,800 or more years in four different seasons (Grieb did it in 2005-06 then 2011-12).  Davila’s 53 regular season wins the past four seasons are the most by any QB in four different seasons. The closest to that number is Grieb (49 total wins: 13 in 2007, 12 in 2000, 12 in 2003, and 12 in 2012). Of course, Davila’s had the benefit of an 18-game schedule the past three seasons that have helped increase his numbers, but still it’s an outstanding accomplishment.

All those regular season numbers are beyond impressive, but at the end of the day, a quarterback in this league is measured on ArenaBowl titles. With a win this Saturday against Spokane, Davila will have three straight ArenaBowl appearances and the opportunity to be just the second starting quarterback to win back-to-back titles joining the great Jay Gruden, who did so in 1995-96 with the Tampa Bay Storm. Davila would also join former Rattlers great Sherdrick Bonner as the only QB to start three straight ArenaBowls (though Bonner lost all three of those contests).

If not for a last-second touchdown by Jacksonville in ArenaBowl XXIV, Davila would likely be the reigning two-time ArenaBowl MVP (no player has been ArenaBowl MVP in consecutive years). In these last two title games, he’s completed 68.6% of his passes for 604 yards thrown 17 touchdowns with just one interception (128.8 passer rating).

Those 17 ArenaBowl touchdowns are tied for the second most ever (though the AFL Record & Fact Book doesn’t list him) and if Davila plays in another ArenaBowl in his career will likely have career title game records for passing yards and passing touchdowns. Last year in ArenaBowl XXV, Davila set or tied title-game records for completion percentage, touchdown passes and passer rating.

Another ArenaBowl win would put Davila in an elite company joining just four other QBs to win multiple ArenaBowls under center. The others are Jay Gruden (4), Grieb (3), John Dutton (2) and Matt D’Orazio (2).  NOTE: Grieb and Bonner’s teams won ArenaBowl when both players were injured and didn’t play; so Grieb has two rings under center and Bonner has one.

Taking all this into account; where would Davila rank among the league’s all-time greats even if the Rattlers don’t repeat this year? Is he a Hall of Famer already?

For me, since the league has made Andy Kelly an HOF finalist this season, Davila is already a first-ballot HOFer. Davila has accomplished much more than Kelly both in the regular and postseason. Kelly has huge career numbers only because he played forever like Vinny Testeverde. Look at his numbers. Kelly never won an ArenaBowl and perhaps even more enlightening, was never honored by his peers as All-Arena in any of his 14 playing seasons.

Another ArenaBowl title will just cement Davila's place among the all-time greats, and for me, would make him the greatest Arizona Rattlers player ever to don the snake on the side of the helmet. Davila has excelled in the regular season, playoffs and most especially the ArenaBowl. That’s HOF worthy.

Before Davila attempts to hoist the Foster Trophy again, he’ll need to get by a familiar opponent, the Spokane Shock, this Saturday night. From 2008-09, Davila guided the Shock to a 38-3 record, two ArenaCup appearances and was ArenaCup X MVP.

In the past four years, the Rattlers have faced the Shock ten times, and this is the third time the two teams have met in the postseason. The series is tied 5-5, though Davila is 5-1 in the last six times he’s played his former team.

If the Rattlers survive their eleventh encounter with the Shock, then it’s on to the team’s eighth ArenaBowl appearance, (third straight) attempting to join the Tampa Bay Storm (five) and Detroit Drive (four) as the only teams with at least four ArenaBowl titles. Arizona would face either the team it lost to 73-70 two years ago in ArenaBowl XXIV (Jacksonville) or the team it stomped 72-54 last year in ArenaBowl XXV (Philadelphia).

Andy Lopusnak is an 11-year AFL front office veteran, spending time with the Tampa Bay Storm, San Diego Riptide and Grand Rapids Rampage. He works as a statistician for NFL and college sports for CBS Sports and is a freelance photographer. Lopusnak received two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of South Florida and has been a fan of ArenaBall since its inception.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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