NFL Veteran Vernon Davis Is Trading the Football Field for the Big Screen During the Offseason

Davis plays a former slave in the upcoming movie, Hell on the Border

Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis is keeping busy during the NFL’s offseason.

The 35-year-old, who has spent 13 years in the league, is starring in a new film about Bass Reeves, the first black Deputy U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi River. Davis plays former slave Columbus Johnson, who helped get other slaves to freedom.

“Columbus wants to make a difference in the world. And he’ll do whatever he can to help get these people from the South, over to Kansas,” Davis tells PEOPLE of his character. “He’s tough; he’s a tough individual. He’ll do whatever he has to do to protect himself, protect his people. And he’s just a great dude.”

Davis filmed his scenes last month in Alabama, and the film — which also stars Frank Grillo, Ron Perlman, Zahn McClarnon and David Gyasi — will be released later this year.

Kayla Sortor

However, this isn’t Davis’ only foray into acting. He’s also made appearances in TV shows such as The League and Inside Amy Schumer, and even had a role in 2017’s Baywatch movie starring Zac Efron and Dwayne Johnson. For the NFL veteran, the thrill of acting is just as fun as being out on the field.

“I love television, and I love being out there and competing — I say competing because acting is a challenge,” he explains. “It’s definitely a challenge, and you’re competing with so many people that have aspirations, and just who set goals for themselves to be really good at it.”

Vernon Davis. Mitchell Layton/Getty

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He continues: “So you’re competing, you’re trying to be the best you can possibly be. And one thing I like about acting in general, is that when you’re out there, especially if you’re doing your own stunt, or just trying to just do the best you can to win that character over.”

But Davis hasn’t put football entirely on to the sidelines as he’s concentrated on the film — he attended Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta to watch Tom Brady and New England Patriots take on the Los Angeles Rams for the Vince Lombardi Trophy on February 3.

That night, he was able to see history made, albeit, not the kind anyone was expecting.

“It was pretty boring in the beginning,” Davis says of the game, which ended up being the lowest scoring Super Bowl in history. “Until they got started making plays, every once in a while you’d get a good play. But yeah, it wasn’t one of those high scoring games that we’ve seen throughout the playoffs.”

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But as Brady led the Pats to a 13-3 victory over the Rams, Davis couldn’t help but be impressed by the 41-year-old quarterback, who has been able to remain an elite NFL player despite his age.

“I know one thing for sure, two things for certain is that if you’re going to play that long, you have to start taking care of yourself the beginning,” Davis, who recently launched a supplement company, Timeless, says. “You can’t wait, as far as taking care of yourself mentally, and physically. You’re going to do those things from the beginning of time, all the way until the end of your career.”

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As he pursues new ventures, Davis wants others to know that it’s never too late for them to go after their passions — as long as they put in the work.

“You put the time into it. You do your very best. Be the best you can be. And that’s how life is in general, just like with everything else,” he says. “Whether you want to be an accountant or if you want to be an actor. You just have to put that time in, the time and energy in to be as good as you can possibly be.”

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