State your case: Terrell Davis


Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos, November 24, 1997

(Photo courtesy of Denver Broncos)

By Clark Judge

Talk of Fame Network

Terrell Davis has never been a Hall-of-Fame finalist. This is the year that should change.

With the list of candidates reduced by the first-ever contributors category, there should be spots freed for players or coaches who deserve to be discussed — and Davis, the former star running back for the Denver Broncos, qualifies.

The argument against him, of course, is that his career was too short for consideration. But tell that to Dwight Stephenson or Gale Sayers. Their careers were short, too, but they were inducted because when they did play they were among the game’s elite.

Well, then, sign me up for Davis. When he played he, Barry Sanders and Enmitt Smith were the league’s top running backs. Except  Smith never ran for 2,000 yards in one season. Davis did. And Sanders never went to a Super Bowl. Davis did. Twice.  Sanders wasn’t a Super Bowl MVP. But Davis was. And neither Sanders nor Smith ran for nearly 5,300 yards while scoring 48 times in three consecutive seasons. But Davis did.

OK, so they were better for a lot longer than Davis, and I buy that. But this isn’t about Sanders or Smith. It’s about Terrell Davis, and here’s what clinches it for me with him: He was at his best when it counted most. We always talk about how Hall-of-Fame players should excel when it matters most, and Davis is at the front of the line there. In eight playoff games he ran for 100 or more yards seven times, tying the Cowboys’ Smith for most postseason TDs with seven.

But Smith got there in 17 starts. Davis did it in seven straight, all Denver wins.

He has the highest career rushing average for the playoffs (5.59 yards per carry, minimum 100 attempts), he averaged 142.5 yards per playoff game and he ranks fifth on the career postseason touchdown list despite playing in far fewer games (see Smith) than others. Then, of course, there’s the impact on his team. John Elway did not win a Super Bowl until Terrell Davis arrived.

Then he won two.

When we had Elway on the Talk of Fame Network radio show three weeks ago, he cited Davis as the one player not in the Hall that he’d endorse, and it’s hard to argue with him. Terrell Davis was an NFL MVP. He was a two-time Player of the Year. He was a two-time Super Bowl champion. There is little missing from his resume except longevity, but that shouldn’t hold him back.

Davis made the cut to 25 as a semifinalist for the last seven years, but he’s never been into the room to be discussed as a finalist. That should change. I understand the reservations about the guy. I know it’s hard to vote for someone who, in reality, had four outstanding seasons. But those seasons weren’t more than outstanding. They were extraordinary, and, at the very least, they should make his candidacy a topic for discussion.

So let’s talk about it. Now.

 

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