By Mark Newman
Chris Davis is already a football legend in the state of Alabama, his iconic “Kick Six” photos hanging on the walls of Auburn faithful and not so much around Tuscaloosa.
Whatever he does with the new Birmingham team in The Alliance of American Football, it will be phenomenal if it falls into the same category of notoriety he already knows so well.
But there is life after the 109-yard touchdown return that somehow ended the 2013 Iron Bowl, and you kind of can’t wait to see what Davis does next. Or more accurately, how much football fans in these parts will appreciate seeing him in uniform. Just think, there might be Bama fans cheering in the stands to see him playing for them at Legion Field – playing cornerback, maybe even going back in the end zone on a long field-goal try.
Five years have passed, and the Kick Six is the stuff of legend. Fourth-ranked Auburn (10-1) was playing the two-time defending national champion Crimson Tide (11-0), and Bama coach Nick Saban called for a 57-yard field goal attempt after Auburn tied the score at 28-28. Cade Foster’s kick fell short, and Davis brought it out. He got an edge, then downfield, a key block that gave him open grass. It was one of the best finishes in sports, period.
“The day after the game: Twitter followers, that Monday going into class, getting a standing ovation, man it was crazy,” Davis said in an Auburn Football podcast last year, recalling the moment he realized the magnitude of the Kick Six. “It was life-changing around campus. You walk around campus as a defensive player, people barely know who you are. They rarely come up and ask for autographs. But after that play, I felt like Cam Newton.”
Davis, Newton and that Auburn team took that 2013 title, a smudge on Bama’s long stretch of dominance. Now Davis is on a roster representing the entire state of Alabama, and maybe beyond, one of eight teams in The Alliance. It’s funny, because you know someone in this Birmingham crowd probably was responsible for one of those Twitter posts photoshopping Davis’ foot to make it look like he stepped out of bounds that game.
“I saw a lot of them and laughed at them. They were everywhere,” he said. “If you were on social media, you couldn’t help but see them. I just laughed because I knew I didn’t step out of bounds. But that’s how it is, Alabama and Auburn. The biggest college football rivalry.”
Davis said he was “just hoping there was no flag on the play. That was the first thing going through my mind, hoping no flag on the play.” Last month, someone actually recreated the play using LEGO bricks. And right around the same time, the Tampa Bay Bucs literally recreated the play in a preseason game, prompting even more Kick Six references. It goes on.
Now the star of the play is one of the names that jump out on the Birmingham roster, one of many Iron Bowl names. He was signed by the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2014, averaged 25.1 yards per kick return and made 15 tackles that season. He signed with the 49ers’ practice squad during the 2015 season and was promoted to the active roster, but he tore an ACL during a 2016 game against Arizona and was placed on injured reserve.
For Davis, it’s about coming back. Coming back home to Birmingham, where he starred for Woodlawn High as a three-sport athlete. Coming back to the state of Alabama, where fans either love or hate what he did five years ago but will try to rally around him this time.