Mile High Salute
Today the class of 2017 has been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Among those inducted was Terrell Davis, running back for the Denver Broncos. It is a day years in the making, and one I thought might never come. But I couldn't be happier.
The argument against Davis has always been the length of his career. He played in just seven NFL seasons and 78 games, only playing 14 or more games in four of those seasons. Yes, that's a small sample size. But Davis didn't get replaced because his play fell off, or because he wasn't relevant, but because of injury. He played in an era where a significant knee injury was career ending, and for him it was.
Sure, he played parts of two seasons after his injury, but he was never the same and ended up having to retire. And because of that, many were prone to discount his claim to the Hall. I never did. And while I wasn't confident he'd get in, I always believed he should.
For a three year stretch, Davis was the best player in the NFL. He made the Broncos into title contenders, and there is no doubt in my mind that we wouldn't have won those titles without him. He rushed for 1,538 yards and 13 TDs in 1996, 1,750 and 15 TDs in 1997, and 2,008 yards and 21 TDs in 1998. Had he not gotten hurt, who knows what he could have achieved.
In just 78 games, Davis rushed for 7,607 yards and 60 TDs. And that was just the regular season. In eight playoff games he rushed for 1,140 yards and 12 TDs, earning Super Bowl MVP honors for the Broncos' first title. He was simply dominant when he played, and to me that embodies what it means to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
As a fan, I remember when Davis started playing. I remember watching him play and how special it was. I remember those playoff games, and that first Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers when, despite a migraine, Davis was unstoppable.
One of my first vivid memories as a Broncos fan was in 1989, when John Elway and the Broncos saw the San Francisco 49ers put up 55 points to win the Super Bowl. Those were the kind of memories the team had. Elway had taken the team there three times in the 1980s, falling short each time.
But that team, with Elway, Davis, and Shannon Sharpe, was different. All three are now in the Hall of Fame, and that feels right. Now we just have to wait for Rod Smith and Steve Atwater to get the call.