The game of football has taken Davis Sanchez from the quiet streets of North Delta’s Sunshine Hills neighbourhood to the bustle of the TSN studio in Toronto.
He’s become one of the sports network’s go-to football analysts over the past couple of years, after a playing career that saw him win three Grey Cup championships in the CFL and also play two seasons in the NFL.
Not bad for a guy who didn’t play the game until he was 16.
“Basketball was my passion, and I did all the camps and played it after school every day, and it was soccer before that,” Sanchez, 46, said in a phone interview from his Toronto-area home.
“I just played football because my buddies played it and I was decently athletic, so football was just a fun thing to do on the side.”
That “side” thing became a passion for Sanchez as he travelled a post-secondary path from the Surrey Rams junior football team to California’s Butte College and then on to the University of Oregon. By 1999, the quick cornerback was drafted sixth overall by the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes.
“I always say the line that when you’re five-foot-nine and you can’t shoot a jumpshot, basketball’s probably not going to be your thing, so it was an easy transition to football for me,” said Sanchez, who counts Sunshine Hills Elementary, Seaquam and North Delta Secondary as schools of his past.
Sachez’s future is very much in sports broadcasting, it seems. But after retiring from football in 2012, working in sports media wasn’t on his radar. He started a facilities services company with former BC Lions teammate Bobby Singh, and did that for a few years, Sanchez recalled. “I didn’t start in broadcasting until three or four years after I retired. The CFL was looking to do a podcast and they asked James Cybulski, who lives out there in Tsawwassen, and he reached out to me about doing it.”
It was fun enough for Sanchez that he just kept doing it.
“Even my mom, who passed away in 2013, she always watched my games on TSN and the panels they had, and she’d always say to me, ‘You’d be good at that, you should do that.’ But it wasn’t my deal, but it kind of just happened. Once I started doing it and enjoyed it, I realized that it could be a good path.”
Four years ago he left the Vancouver area for Toronto, where he and his wife are now raising two young daughters.
“That’s what I’m working on every day, seeing that grow from its infancy, and I’m in studio just on (NFL) game days,” he reported. “The Edge, that’s kind of my baby. So for most of the week I have a setup at my house here, and I fire up the camera and throw on a shirt, tie and jacket, and record. It’s good. To get to talk about football and make a living, no complaints.”
Playing the game, Sanchez spent the 2001 and 2002 seasons with the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, a two-year stint that helped earn him entry into both the Butte College and Delta sports halls of fame.
Asked why the NFL didn’t work out for him, Sanchez paused.
“You know, I wouldn’t say that it didn’t work out for me,” he replied. “I played two full seasons in the NFL, and for a kid who didn’t play football until he was 16, it probably did work out. Now, would I have wanted to play 10 years and been an all-pro in the NFL? Sure, but you know, I’m a five-foot-nine kid from Sunshine Hills playing corner in the NFL for two seasons, that was probably close to the ceiling for me, and I think I maxed out my potential there, to be honest. I’m not exactly physically dominant or gifted, so I made the most of what I had in that situation, to be fair.”
After his days in San Diego, Sanchez returned to the CFL and won Grey Cups with Edmonton Eskimos in 2005, with the Alouettes in 2009 and his home-town Lions in 2011.
“I’m fortunate for sure, and I cherish those (Grey Cup) wins,” he said. “I was definitely in the right place at the right time, and then I put in the work when I needed to – I think that’s the key. You know, I wasn’t always committed to training and doing things, but once I saw that there was an opportunity, and that I had the (athleticism), that’s when I would attack it with everything I had and try to make something of it. For a kid that probably wasn’t all that disciplined growing up, I definitely dove in with both feet once I realized I had a shot at something, and made the most of it.”
With the 2020 CFL season cancelled due to COVID-19, his attention turned to the NFL for analysis over the past five months, and that will continue during the playoffs in January.
Asked for his pick to win the Super Bowl this year, Sanchez balked.
“I don’t know if you saw last night but Jay and Dan (TSN’s star highlights-show duo) tried to get me on that, but I’ll hold off on predictions right now,” Sanchez said with a laugh. “But I am pulling for the Buffalo Bills,” he added. “It’s a great story, and Buffalo and Seattle are the two teams with a Canadian attachment, or feel to them, and I just love the Buffalo story. And behind K.C. (Kansas City Chiefs), I think they’re the second best team in the NFL right now.”