Anthony Davis enjoys telling the story about when he scored six touchdowns in a game against Notre Dame in 1972. He said he ended up meeting Muhammad Ali. Not too long before that, he spoke with my idol, Jim Murray.
Before USC played against Notre Dame, Davis, the USC legend, said he told the Los Angeles Times columnist that he would score two long touchdowns. Murray ran with it and gave Davis plenty of attention with the bold prediction. Davis said his coaches reprimanded him.
But Davis backed it up with two long kick-off returns for TDs, 97 yards and 96 yards. After USC’s 45-23 win, Davis said Ali wanted to meet the Trojans’ star tailback.
Ali loved Davis’ flair.
Davis doesn’t have any lofty prediction about USC’s big game on Saturday against Alabama at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. He merely suggests: “Anything can happen.”
Still, Davis believes his Trojans can win. He’ll be watching the game on TV (5 p.m. on ABC) and interacting with fans at Costa Mesa 55 Tavern + Bowl. He’s the featured guest.
He’ll be providing his autograph, on mostly a paper replica of a Sports Illustrated cover with a young Davis on it. He’ll also have trivia questions, and of course, he’ll offer his many stories.
Davis said he will be at the sports bar at Triangle Square for every USC game on TV. He plans to have his Notre Dame Killer Trophy, just as he did when we met on Thursday afternoon. The trophy has a figurine of his likeness and lists his statistics in the three games against the Fighting Irish, including 11 touchdowns.
A woman asked Davis to pose with her son for a photo. She told her son that the trophy was a big deal, the Heisman, she thought. Davis had to correct her. He came close to winning the Heisman. But Davis seems just fine with five national championships, two in football and three in baseball for USC.
Davis is probably better off without the Heisman. He said he usually gets mistaken for O.J. Simpson.
“Not me,” Davis says as he shakes his head.
The true USC fans know who Davis is. They love him, and he knows it, he says.
“They are the most loyal fans in the world,” he said. “I know we’ve been going through some down years and not winning the way we used to, but the fans have always been great, been great to me … They realize that, I’m being a little cocky when I say this, but I played in the greatest years in the school’s history. The 70s decade was considered the greatest time in the school’s history. When people see me, they say, ‘You played in the time when you set the standard.’ I take honor in that.”
Davis says he stays busy with appearances like the ones at Tavern. He also has a radio show on Swoops World, online. He tackles any topic, he said.
He’s not shy. Fans can experience that during USC games at the Costa Mesa sports bar.