Former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis was not among the finalists for induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The reasons for Davis not making the list of finalists are well documented. Actually, there’s only one reason: he simply did not play long enough and while I understand that, it’s flawed thinking.
The thing that bothers me about any Hall of Fame is they put too much emphasis on longevity. Now, I’m not saying a player who had one historic season should be in the Hall of Fame but the focus should be more on what they do on the field. Davis, over a four-year period, was the best running back in the game and for two of those years he was the best player in the league. He was a Super Bowl MVP following the 1997 season and league MVP in 1998. Davis set the record for yards gained from scrimmage, including playoffs, in 1997 and ran for over 2000 yards in 1998. Those were his two best seasons but he also put up big numbers in the two seasons before that, and was a primary reason that the Broncos finally got over the hump when they beat the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl XXXII.
The argument is going to come back at me and it is going to say yes, the numbers are great but it simply was not long enough. I’m not buying it! Davis is not Gale Sayers, who is in the Hall of Fame, despite playing only seven seasons but his numbers are better in some areas. Sayers finished with 4,956 yards rushing and 39 touchdowns. Davis finished with 7,607 yards rushing and 60 touchdowns. If you want to get nit-picky Sayers had a slightly better yards per carry average, 5.0 to 4.6. Sayers was also a better receiver and one of the all-time great kick returners, but the pure running back numbers favor Davis. Before anyone goes there, this is not an indictment of Sayers, on the contrary I love watching highlights of him. The point I am making is there is precedent for the Hall of Fame electing a player who did not play all that long.
Sayers got in, rightfully so, because he was one of the best players in the game. If you look back to the mid to late 90’s, you cannot write that chapter of the NFL without mentioning Davis a lot. He was one of the best, if not the best, player of that era and that combined with is numbers makes him a Hall of Famer.
Will he ever get in? As much as I would like to say yes, I can’t. There are too many people on that committee that are too caught up in the length of his career, and that will keep him out. Davis’s best shot is through the veterans committee in a few years; that’s a group of former players who care more about how good a player was and less about how long they played. It’s a shame because Davis belongs with the greats of all time.
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