Tuesday, May 3, 2011

D.C.'s Super Star

There's a superstar in the D.C. sports world I bet you don't know about.

He wasn't the number one overall draft pick like Strasburg, Harper, Wall or even Ovechkin. In fact, he wasn't in the draft at all. He wasn't signed to a $100 million contract by Dan Snyder, or acquired in a trade dump to get rid of Gilbert Arenas' contract. He plays the most popular sport in the world, but you won't find him on the Redskins roster.

Actually, its because he doesn't play for the Redskins or the Capitals that I doubt you know anything about him. He's a little guy named Charlie Davies. And I mean a little guy. Like, DeVito little.

Standing a rugged 5' 10", his name should be the one towering over the headlines about the tedious NFL labor dispute, the non-Wizards inclusive NBA playoffs, and the right-about-where-they-should-be .500 Nationals (don't worry, they still have 134 games left to play).

Perhaps if you knew his story you'd be inclined to pay some mind to the most successful D.C. sport's franchise, but be warned...its a soccer team.

D.C. United is home to four MLS Cups ('96, '97, '99, '04) and the U.S. Open Cup ('96), and the best fans of any Washington sports team. Don't believe me? Ever seen flags like this at a Redskins game?

And now, D.C. United is home to the best storyline character in Washington sports.

What about Ovi? He loves vodka, women, fast cars and losing in the playoffs. Yawn.
Stephen Strasburg? He's been icing his shoulder since the start of last season.
Bryce Harper? Still getting in meaningless fights in a league called "Class-A Hagerstown"...whatever that is.
John Wall? Last I checked he's surrounded by a bunch of nincompoops with no work ethic.

And don't get me started on the off-season woes of the Redskin's biggest name...and biggie sized...player.

No, we have a better story. A more inspiring story. A sports story that you hear about and wish the main character was playing for your team. Only this time, he is.

Less than two years ago Davies was involved in one of those stories that makes a hit episode of ESPN's "Outside the Lines" or "E:60".

Imagine. Heading home after a night in D.C. with your friends. Seconds later the car you're riding in is cut in half. All you can recall is blackness.You wake up to a right femur break, a broken right tibia and fibula, a dislocated left elbow, a face with numerous fractures, a brain that is bleeding and a lacerated bladder.

Your friend has died.

I guess that makes you the lucky one.

18 months later, the scars serve as an enduring reminder of that night. Of being forced to start over, of hours of rehabilitation, and of what it takes to make your new dream a reality.

Davies was a promising soccer star at the time. Playing on the French Club team, Sochaux, he had also made the U.S. Men's National team and was looking forward to his first World Cup appearance in 2010.

Then it ended. Over night. Dropped from the National team and a few months later placed on loan from his club team to play for D.C. United...the last placed team in MLS.

Returning to the city where he lost his friend, and potentially his career.

"So, what?" you ask. Sure its a heartbreaking story and we feel bad for the guy but that doesn't make him a superstar.

To me, a superstar has to have A) Unnatural ability, B) Swagger that demands attention, and C) Marketability. The third one is important, its why we consider Charles "I am not a role model" Barkley a star, but not a superstar. And why David Beckham is the biggest superstar on Earth after accomplishing...something. At some point in time...right?

In his first competitive match in over 17 months, Davies came off the bench for D.C. United and scored within 10 minutes. He added a second goal 15 minutes later. Coming off the bench...in his first competitive match in a year and a half...after suffering a broken femur among a litany of other injuries. I want to make sure you're following. He has 5 goals in 6 games played so far. Unnatural ability.

Did I forget to tell you what he did after he scored his second goal? What about after he scored against the L.A. Galaxy? This dude has swagger that is demanding your attention. It's still unconfirmed, but I'm pretty sure he tried to steal that Volkswagen right off the podium.

And hey, why wouldn't Volkswagen want to sign this guy to an endorsement deal? The celebration itself can be ripped and put straight into a newspaper ad. Easiest ad campaign of all time. Marketability.

So yes, I consider Charlie Davies a superstar. If nothing else, he has brought a swagger to D.C. sports that has never existed before. He's the most exciting guy to watch on the field and it's all made more impressive when you know what he's had to battle through to get where he is.

When the NBA playoffs are finished and the Stanley Cup has been awarded, it'll just mean its time for D.C. to turn its full attention to its next biggest, little, sports icon.

And in Brazil in 2014, expect to hear them say, "Charlie Davies, #9, starting forward for the United States."

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