Davis not loving the limelight

Updated: October 10, 2003, 10:26 AM ET
ESPN

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Stephen Davis loves leading the NFC in rushing. The Carolina running back could do without all the extra attention it brings.

Since signing with the Panthers during the offseason, Davis has thrived on the field to help Carolina (4-0) to the best start in franchise history.

Most comfortable facing an imposing defense, Davis has raced off to 565 yards rushing this season. But those numbers bring a barrage of unwanted attention and Davis, an eight-year veteran, is squirming under the bright spotlight.

"I'm a private person and I'm quiet," Davis said. "The media, it's OK. But I would rather go about my everyday business like I've been doing and just do my job.

"I get paid to play football. I've been doing a pretty good at it so far and now everybody wants to talk to me. But once you mess up, everybody leaves. I'd rather just stay to myself."

Davis, this week's NFC offensive player of the week, has been bombarded with requests the past few weeks. There have been two separate segments on ESPN and an appearance Wednesday night on the "The Best Damn Sports Show Period," on Fox.

He started to gain attention after the season-opener against Jacksonville, when he rushed for 111 yards on 22 attempts. He followed his Carolina debut with a 142-effort against Tampa Bay, 153 yards against Atlanta and then 159 -- the second most in franchise history -- last week against New Orleans.

But with each new interview request and each 100-yard rushing game -- he set the NFL record as the first veteran back to rush for 100 or more yards in his first four games with a new team -- the topic inevitably turns to the pace he's on to pass Eric Dickerson's NFL single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards.

Dickerson's record is the one topic Davis won't touch.

"Not right now," Davis said. "If I break Dickerson's record, then that probably means we'll be in the playoffs and we've got a chance to make it to the big game."

After just one trip to the postseason in seven years in Washington, Davis said he would gladly trade a trip to the playoffs for any records, including Dickerson's.

"That's because you have an opportunity to play in another season," Davis said. "Once you get in that postseason, anything can happen. If you get breaks here and there, you can get to the Super Bowl. We just have to keep taking it one game at a time and just be patient."

His offensive line, drastically improved this season and not shy to credit Davis for inspiring the Panthers to block better and open holes, shares its running back's attitude.

"Hey, we all know a lot of things can happen in the next 12 games," left tackle Todd Steussie said. "He's doing a great job and things are clicking with the running game. At the same time there is a lot of work to be done and we're not, by any means, even a small part of the way there.

"So you look back on that type of stuff in hindsight, not look forward to it."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index