Two-time NFL Pro-Bowl standout and Super Bowl champion, Vernon Davis, is no stranger to hard work and stress. During his time with the Washington Redskins, he caught 583 passes for 7,562 yards and 63 touchdowns in 14 NFL seasons. Beyond his exemplary career as a NFL standout, Davis has also made it his mission to help the lives of children and young adults and promote community activism.

Now, he is entering a new phase with the launch of  his company Reel85 Productions and a starring role in the feature film, Red Winter — with more developmental deals in the near future.

He opens up to Thrive about how he is handling stress and the ways he prioritizes when he has an overwhelming amount to do. 

Thrive Global: What is causing you stress right now?

Vernon Davis: Not being able to interact with people and travel for business and plan vacations has been the biggest stress. Fortunately, apps like Zoom has given me the privilege to have meetings directly from my phone to make it easy.

TG: How are you Thriving in this new normal?

 VD: I’ve been working with my acting coach twice a week and reading scripts for films that I plan to pursue after the pandemic is over. I also have been making sure that I stay in shape by working out four days a week. The workouts take place inside my house and in my driveway. 

TG: What is your best tip to communicate with your family during this stressful time? 

VD: The best way to communicate with family is through face time and other social platforms like Instagram etc. 

TG: What is your morning routine? 

VD: The last two weeks I have been starting my day by cooking breakfast (eggs whites, oatmeal and fruit) and hydrating. Next, I’ll start stretching and then I’ll begin my workout. On a normal day the first thing I’ll do is devour a bottle of water, start stretching then head down stairs to prepare my breakfast which is usually the same breakfast every morning, egg whites, oatmeal and fruit. My gym is 15 miles from my house so I have to commute but by the time I arrive, my body is prepared for the work. 

TG: What are some of the ways that you are keeping your routine? 

VD: A routine can be tough to keep up with if there’s an obstacle in the mist, but if you fight the challenge mentally, you can be prosperous and remain consistent. Staying consistent with my habits has been the way for me!

TG: Being a part of a competitive sport,how do you mentally prepare to not get overwhelmed? 

VD: Before every game I listen to slow calm music so that I can take it one play at a time with out any anxiety or fear. 

TG: As a professional athlete, it requires a lot of drive to train and compete. What are some of the ways you motivate yourself to keep at your goal?

VD: I use visualization by meditating and placing a vision board beside my bed so that I can see my goals everyday. That’s where I get my motivation. 

TG: Can you share a time that you lost your motivation — and what you did to bring yourself back?

VD: I lost my motivation when I was traded from San Francisco to Denver. I regained my motivation by taking my meditation even further. I decided to seek more help that could stimulate me mentally so that I could have a sound mind and perform at a high level. 

TG: How do you focus? Are there some small tips or tricks you use to maintain your focus?

VD: I focus through meditating on my goals and continuing to tell myself I have to be better than I was a year ago. 

TG: What does your body need to perform at its best? 

VD: My body needs a massage three times a week, a chiropractor, sleep and a therapist to talk about all the issues I’ve faced along the way. I call it, getting rid of the demons! 

TG:  What were some of the best tips for healthy nutrition you’ve been given?

VD: To me, being healthy is eating vegetables everyday with every meal, staying away from fried food and desserts. That would be my recommendation for anyone. On a side-note i’d like to encourage every athlete or even the average person to consume protein after every workout or competition. It helps with recovery and muscle growth. 

TG: How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do? 

VD: When I’m overwhelmed I like keep my tasks at the top of the list so that I can stay motivated to get through the difficulties . On my list I always have three items that I consider a “must do.” These are items that I will finish no matter what.  In most cases I go back to my breath, where I use a breathing technique that allows me to stay calm just like I do on the football field so that I can execute properly.

TG:  Can you share a time you failed and what were the things you did to grow and learn from that? 

VD: I remember when I dropped a pass while playing for Denver. It would have been the game winning catch but I failed to execute. For a moment I was humiliated but every day after that, I had my best days because I used that to get better and most times the negative things that enter our minds don’t come into fruition, EVER, because when you’re competitive and you know how to win, you’ll always know how to win. It becomes innate. 

TG: What is the best advice you’ve ever received and who was it from? 

VD: Mike Singletary, NFL Hall of Famer told me to put my teammates first and I’ll become a true leader and inspiration. He was right! Humility and sacrifice are two things that most people are afraid of and it’s extremely difficult to accomplish. 


  • Lindsey Benoit O'Connell

    Deputy Editor, Entertainment + Partnerships at Thrive

    Lindsey Benoit O'Connell is Thrive's Deputy Editor, Entertainment + Partnerships. Prior to working at Thrive, she was the Entertainment + Special Projects Director for Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, Redbook and Woman's Day booking the talent for covers and inside features. O'Connell currently lives in Astoria, NY with her husband Brian and adorable son, Hunter Fitz.