49er Gets Role in Winter Games - NBC Bay Area

49er Gets Role in Winter Games



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    San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis (85) takes the field during an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in San Francisco, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Marcio Sanchez)

    San Francisco 49ertight end Vernon Davis is going to play a role in the Vancouver Olympics. He is scheduled to head to Canada right after he plays in the pro-bowl.

    Davis has been invited to be an honorary captain for the U.S. men's curling team.

    Davis gave the sport a try late last year and loved it. He says he's excited to attend the Winter games.

    "I look forward to learning more and meeting those guys and finding out what their practice is like," Davis said.

    It is convenient that the 49ers aren't in the playoffs this year, because that will allow Davis to bone up his curling skills.

    Davis is already on duty as captain of the team. He shot several public service announcements both at 49er headquarters in Santa Clara and at the San Jose Sharks' practice ice.

    "I got a chance to really show my personality, and they let me do what I wanted at the end. I had a blast with it," Davis told the Associated Press.

    The PSAs will be used at curling clubs around the country to help promote the sport's growth.

    Curling is huge in Canada. That country has about a million people who play. Here in the lower 48 there are only about 15,000 people who take up the sport and most of them are in the midwest.

    As part of his gig, Davis will meet the team and experience life in the Olympic Village, attend a match in Vancouver to support the Americans, get to enjoy a VIP curling experience at the Vancouver Curling Club and receive a one-day pass to the U.S. Olympic Committee's USA House.

    This is a first for the curling team to carry an honorary captain, though the curlers have partnered with the Green Bay Packers on projects in the past.

    "It's a great opportunity for the sport to have a Pro Bowl-type athlete interested in our sport," U.S. coach Phill Drobnick said. "We're really excited to interact with someone who has worked so hard to raise his level of play in his sport and become undoubtedly one of the best tight ends in the NFL. This is definitely something great for the sport of curling, and the team looks forward to seeing him in Vancouver."

    U.S. skip, or captain, John Shuster is headed back to the Olympics after capturing a bronze medal at the 2006 Turin Games -- the first ever American medal in the sport and first in a major men's competition since 1978.

    The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Davis, known for his pure athleticism and speed, first took to the curling ice in early November and was a natural after receiving a short lesson.

    All the curling folks hope Davis' infectious personality comes through in the PSAs. Patzke praised the 49ers' production crew for "donating their time and talents."

    "That was awesome. I'm looking forward to meeting him," Patzke said. "When people see these athletes who they know are very good and know they're athletic, it helps to overcome the image of curling not being an athletic sport. Having Vernon speak on behalf of curling also brings that legitimacy to the sport."