Carol La Valley chats with Arizona Rattlers quarterback Nick Davila about his three consecutive 100-touchdown seasons
“When you play the game, you want to be the best of the best.”
Nick Davila, quarterback for the Arizona Rattlers, threw over 100 touchdowns in 2010. He did it again in 2011 and was named Most Valuable Player of the National Arena Football League. Then, he had elbow surgery, an admittedly worrisome challenge for the “man with the golden arm.” He came back and threw another 100-plus touchdowns in the 2012 season, making him the first quarterback in pro football history to throw three consecutive 100-touchdown seasons. He attributes the amazing number to the coaching staff and the league for “calling the right plays and putting us in the right position to make plays.”
Interviewing Davila, I could feel the smile on his face when he talked about his dad and grandfather throwing him a ball as a child.
“The first thing I picked up was a baseball, a bat, and a glove, but my dad took me to all the Raiders games,” he says. Davila caught the pigskin via encouragement from his Uncle Sam, a high school football coach for the local team.
When Davila ran onto the football field his freshman year of high school, he left the baseball mound behind because there was just something about those Friday-night lights. “As soon as they turned the lights on at my first night game and I heard all the fans—there is just a rush you get when you come out to play,” he says. And play he did. After college, the Cleveland Browns signed him, but the NFL dream was not to be—at least not yet.
“When you play the game, you want to be the best of the best,” Davila says. “I would love to play in the NFL, but if that happens, it happens. I’m just going to do whatever God has planned for me. That’s the way I was raised.”
Davila played for the Spokane Shock when they won a division title in 2007. The Rattlers came calling in 2009, and Davila found he had a decision to make. Donning a Rattler jersey meant training in the Arizona heat.
“The 110-degree temps make you physically and mentally tougher,” Davila says. “You’ve just got to embrace it. When you go to an indoor game, your stamina is better because when you get tired, the first that goes is timing plays.”
Becoming a Rattler also meant moving his wife and high school sweetheart, Jessica, and their baby, Moses, to the Valley of the Sun. What he terms the “best” career decision also meant a shorter travel time to his father and extended family in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Making the father who pushed him “to the limit” as a child proud is important to the man Davila has become. The two men still talk before and after games, and the tradition of throwing a ball from father to son continues.
“I don’t even have to teach Moses. He wants to do it himself,” Davila says. His second child will have come into the world by the time this article hits the presses, and Davila admits to a bit of nervousness. “I caused my mom and dad some gray hairs, so God might repay me,” he says, laughing.
Lucky youngsters can find Davila in the off-season coaching youth football camps—that is, when he is not playing softball with some of his Rattler teammates. There’s no doubt Davila plays to win, but to him, football is fun. He is happy riding the wave, playing the game like a kid and thanking the fans. “They are part of this championship—they love us and make the atmosphere at games awesome,” Davila says.