Jets’ Corey Davis opens up about brother who died of cancer

New Jets wide receiver Corey Davis catches up with Post columnist Steve Serby for some Q&A: 

Q: One of your tweets: Hate is so familiar to me, I’m slowly embracing it. 

A: (Laugh) A lot of these are quotes from songs, but they hit home for me. Obviously in this game, in this profession, there’s a lot of hate, a lot of disrespect. You can’t let it get to you. There was a point to where it was kinda getting to me a little bit, and my brother, God rest his soul, was one of the ones who just kinda got my head out of that funk. You can’t really run from that, because it’s everywhere, especially like I said in this profession.

Q: You said your brother (Titus) got you out of that funk? 

A: Yeah man … that’s my guy, man.

Q: You still think about him to this day, right? 

A: (Voice cracking) I’m getting emotional right now, but that’s my guy, for sure.

Q: Could you sum him up for me? Whatever you want to say about him that made him special to you. 

A: He is a natural leader … he was so courageous to me … he was a giant. He faced a lot of adversity, seen a lot of obstacles, and no matter what he went through, it never really seemed to shake him. Even when he was going through his toughest times, you know battling this really rare, really aggressive [kidney] cancer it never shook him. And to me, that says a lot about who he is as a person, it never shook him, and he was the same person the whole time. The entire process he was the same person [Titus died last November at age 27].

One time he asked me how I was doing, how things are going today, I’m like, “Bro, like…” So he was always looking out for me. He was the best big brother, man. It was just unbelievable to see the strength … (voice cracks again) I’m nothing without him. He taught me the way (pause).

Q: And you are motivated to this day by his memory, correct? 

A: (Voice cracking) No question. I wouldn’t playing this game if it wasn’t for him, and I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for him.

Q: Would you say the best is yet to come for Corey Davis? 

A: Yes sir, no question.

Jets wide receiver Corey Davis stands on the field among teammates during training camp in Florham Park, New Jersey.
Jets wide receiver Corey Davis looks on during training camp.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Q: Tell me why you believe that. 

A: Last year, I felt like I barely scratched the surface. That was a good year, but I felt I could have done so much more. And I’ve come such a long way. I feel like I’m still growing. There’s so much for me to grow and so much more for me to learn. It’s gonna be a good year, not only for me, but for this whole squad.

Q: Is it important for you to be a No. 1 receiver? 

A: I like that pressure, I like the team leaning on me, coming to me with whatever play needs to be made. I’m always gonna work to be No. 1 at whatever I do.

Q: Would you say your NFL career has not been what you imagined it to be so far? 

A: (Chuckle) Nothing is what you ever imagine it to be. That’s life. You gotta roll with the punches. I’m no stranger to adversity. I’m just gonna keep getting better. That’s all we can focus on.

Q: Your first impressions of Zach Wilson? 

A: He’s hard on himself, and that’s the way it should be, he wants to be perfect. He’s gonna fit just fine in this league, he’s gonna be great, no question.

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson throws a pass during training camp.
Jets quarterback Zach Wilson throws a pass during training camp.
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Q: What makes you say that? 

A: His mindset, his demeanor is the main thing that I kind of look at. His mindset is different and his demeanor is just different, and it’s good to see.

Q: Coach Robert Saleh? 

A: He’s a chill coach, but his approach is great, because he takes time with each player. He’s gonna develop you. He knows the game inside and out. He’s a defensive mind, but he knows both sides of the ball really well.

Q: Playing on the big New York stage? 

A: Pumped up for it. I can’t wait to embrace New York, and I hope they embrace me. There’s nothing like playing football in front of these fans. I can’t wait.

Q: Another tweet: Disrespect the caterpillar, rave about the butterfly. 

A: (Laugh) I think that’s a Drake quote … it hit home to me for obvious reasons. When you’re in the grind, when you’re on the come up, not many people really care about that. They don’t really see the work that’s put in, they really just see when you’re on the stage.

Q: Another tweet: No one cares who I was until I put on the mask. 

A: (Chuckle) I started this apparel company called Mask Up before the pandemic and everything, and it’s kinda crazy how everything happened. It’s similar to the alter ego, and essentially no one really knew or cared to know about the Davis name or about who I was until that happened. And now that I have this platform, it kinda showed who I am, not only as a person on the field but off the field.

Q: They think I had the silver spoon but they’ll get it soon. 

A: Growing up the way I grew up, didn’t have much. Four brothers, two sisters … everybody has a story, everybody has their adversity … I never had a silver spoon. Had to work for everything that we had, we had to grind for it, and even then it was little things. Being where I am now is such a blessing and just to look back and see where God delivered me is something special.

Q: Climb the mountain so you can see the world, not so the world can see you. 

A: That’s about respect, and me personally, I’ve never been a guy fond of the limelight, I’ve always kinda been a low-key dude. I wasn’t a look-at-me type of dude. You climb the mountain to be a better person, and to learn who you are in that process of the climb. You don’t climb it up there so people can see you and you get the glory. I was never a person that wanted the glory. Being from where I’m from [Wheaton, Ill.] it wasn’t easy, and the only reason I made it out was because of my Lord and Savior.

Q: What was the low point? 

A: Some I really don’t want to speak of. There were a lot of low points. A lot of it was embarrassing because I couldn’t do the things that even poor kids were able to do. We just didn’t have anything. My parents never had cars growing up. … A lot of that was low, but like I said, it made me who I am, so …

Q: Why was Walter Payton your boyhood idol? 

A: Obviously growing up, being raised in Chicago, he was kind of everywhere. I played a little bit of running back when I was little. I started to grow a little bit taller. The way he played, it always jumped out to me. I kinda try to adapt that mindset of Never Die Easy, not only on the field, but in life. He seemed like such a humble guy, I watched so many videos I felt like I knew him. Not only just on-the-field videos, but who he was off the field with his kids, with his wife and everything. It’s no surprise why that Walter Payton Award is named after him.

Q: Describe your on-field mentality. 

A: As soon as I step between those white lines, to me it’s a straight business. It’s like the dude across from me he’s trying to take food off your plate. It’s how I feed my family. I’ll do whatever it takes.

Q: What is your definition of lionhearted? 

A: Very courageous. No fear. Attacking everything. No matter what’s across from you, how big … always be on the attack.

Q: Would you describe yourself on the field as lionhearted? 

A: No question.

Q: You can pick the brain of any wide receiver in NFL history. 

A: I have a lot of favorites, but just the work ethic and mindset of Jerry Rice was always second to none. That’s definitely a guy that I would want to have a conversation with.

Q: You can test your skills 1-on-1 against any cornerback in NFL history. 

A: Deion [Sanders], no question, to me he’s the best. You always want to go up against the best.

Q: Describe your 7-month-old daughter’s personality. 

A: She’s always in a great mood. We’re starting to really form a great bond.

Q: Has fatherhood changed you? 

A: Going home and being able to see them (wife and daughter) and see their smile … to make sure that they’re comfortable, that to me is a great feeling because I never really had that luxury of being comfortable as a kid.

Q: Your COVID-19 last October? 

A: It wasn’t too bad. Pretty sick for maybe two days, I lost my taste, smell. Glad I was able to get out of that and end up healthy.

Q: Three dinner guests? 

A: Walter Payton; Mike Ditka; Keelan Cole (laugh). That’s a helluva table, right?

Q: Favorite movie? 

A: “Remember the Titans.”

Q: Favorite actor? 

A: Jamie Foxx.

Q: Favorite actress? 

A: Viola [Davis].

Q: Favorite singer/entertainer? 

A: Lil Wayne.

Q: Favorite meal? 

A: Rib eye.

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