John Elway is a Hall-of-Fame quarterback who played 16 seasons with Denver, so he knows all about longevity. And what he knows about longevity is that it should be a factor with candidates for Canton.
But with an exception.
“There’s no question longevity has an impact on it,” he said on the recent Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “Obviously, you look at different positions and the running back and the pounding that those running backs take. That’s a little bit of a different situation.
“But I think there’s no question longevity should have something to do with it because it’s a matter of doing it to be great. I think you have to be good for a long time. (But) you have to look at the position. You have to look at the impact of what that one player may have had for that organization.”
And that’s why Elway, now the Broncos’ general manager, said he wasn’t concerned that longevity would keep Davis’ former teammate, Terrell Davis out of Canton, despite having his career cut short by a devastating injury.
Davis was the best running back in football at the time, with four years where he gained over 6,000 yards rushing — including a 2,000-yard season — and won two Super Bowls, led the league twice in rushing touchdowns and was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year (twice), league MVP and Super Bowl MVP.
And while his career was short-circuited, he still was so good that he was voted a first-team running back to the 1990s’ all-decade team. For that reason, Elway said he was not surprised when Davis was named the fifth pure Bronco to be elected to the Hall.
“(Surprised?) Not for me, especially for that position,” said Elway, “especially when you look at Terrell and the impact he had on the football team while he was healthy. There’s no question that we wouldn’t have won those two world championships in ’97 and ’98 without Terrell on the football field because of the dominant way he played the game and his ability to run the football.
“So I am not concerned with it because when you look at Terrell, you look at Gale Sayers and you look at the impact they had on their football teams while they were playing … to me, that’s what made them Hall-of-Fame worthy.”