Gould, Davis took long route to NFL


LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) – The tying and winning field goals came from a man who was working construction. Key receptions came from a guy who had a job at an electronics store while he toiled in the Arena Football League.

Robbie Gould and Rashied Davis certainly took indirect routes to the NFL.

Yet, there they were Sunday, helping the Chicago Bears beat the Seattle Seahawks 27-24 in overtime to advance to the NFC championship game.

Gould kicked the winning 49-yard field goal after tying it with a 41-yarder with just under six minutes left in regulation. Davis caught four passes for 84 yards.

They were still smiling Monday.

“It’s kind of a dream come true for me,” said Gould, who was undrafted out of Penn State and waived by two teams before making the Pro Bowl this season.

“It feels great to still have a job, to still have something to look forward to,” Davis said.

After Seattle punted on the first possession of overtime, Rex Grossman and Davis connected for 30 yards to put the ball on the Seahawks 36. Four plays later, Gould kicked the winning field goal. And then, he ran around the field.

“I wasn’t thinking,” Gould said. “I was just going nuts.”

Afterward, he took his parents to dinner. His phone and inbox were jammed with messages, and so were Davis’.

Not bad for two players who were working odd jobs not too long ago and were college walk-ons.

The fifth all-time scorer at Penn State, Gould was waived by New England in late August 2005 and by Baltimore a month later. He was working construction for a family friend back home in Lock Haven, Pa., when the call came from the Bears that October.

“I really didn’t think it was the Bears organization calling,” Gould said. “I thought it was just a friend goofing around, and the next thing I know, it was, “Get me on the fastest plane there.”‘

Gould went on to convert 21 of 27 field goals for the Bears last season. He started this season by making a club-record 24 before New England blocked a 45-yard attempt on Nov. 26, and Gould made 32-of-36 overall.

Davis wore a gray sweat suit, a white Los Angeles Dodgers cap that was turned backward, and an ear-to-ear grin.

At 5-foot-9 and 183 pounds, Davis was considered too small to catch footballs in the NFL. Yet he caught 22 for 303 yards and two touchdowns as the Bears’ third or fourth receiver this season.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be told you can’t do something for such a long time, or that you’re maybe too small, not fast enough, not quick enough – and for someone to finally give you an opportunity,” Davis said.

Overcoming obstacles is nothing new to him – he’s been doing it most of his life.

Davis emerged from the rough South Central neighborhood of Los Angeles, endured long commutes to schools in better areas as a child and walked on at a junior college before moving on to San Jose State. When he was 8, Davis’ father was shot and killed at a restaurant. Some of his friends and brothers were in gangs, but they discouraged him from joining.

Davis never played organized football until he tried out at West Los Angeles Community College, and before the first practice, Davis had trouble putting on his pads. He was raw, but gifted, and emerged as a starter. Davis went on to San Jose State, where he played wide receiver, defensive back and returned kickoffs, but the NFL took a pass after his senior season.

Davis spent four years with the Arena Football League’s San Jose SaberCats, playing on offense, defense and special teams – and worked at Best Buy before signing a three-year contract with the Bears in June 2005. He appeared in 12 games last season, playing mostly on special teams and defense.

Now, he’s preparing for New Orleans on Sunday and, maybe, a trip to the Super Bowl.

In previous years, he’d be getting ready for the AFL season.

“I don’t see myself as being any better than any of them,” he said. “As an example I don’t know. It maybe gives them a little bit more incentive that if they work hard, they keep playing and keep on believing that they can possibly make it here.

“But it’s not easy to get here, you have to have a little bit of luck.”