"If the Hall of Fame is about a person who impacted the game and played at the highest level when the stakes were high, I think I checked all the boxes. If you can raise your game and play at the level I was able to play at during those moments, that speaks for itself. When you throw in the accomplishments on the team front, two championships, and winning every individual award you can imagine, I achieved. There was nothing I did not achieve in the period of time I played. I accomplished everything I set out to do in the few years I did play."
During his rookie training camp, he dealt with the fear of not making the final roster. All that changed on a fateful day in Tokyo during the 1995 pre-season.
Davis didn't expect to see any snaps and by halftime he was starving, settling for a chili dog, a hot dog, french fries and some candy. Yes, Terrell Davis had the lunch of a 12-year old that day.
Fittingly, Davis was not feeling well after halftime, when his opportunity arrived. On kickoff coverage, Davis raced down the field, finishing the play with a huge hit on the returner. That play earned Davis some fourth quarter carries and the rest is history.
Two Super Bowl championships, one regular season MVP, one Super Bowl MVP, a 2,000-yard season; these are the career notches on Davis' belt. His initials are T.D., which is fitting considering he scored so many of those. He made the Mile High Salute a mark of being a Denver Bronco, something players still do today. The question is not what Davis accomplished during his brief career, it's what didn't he accomplish?
Yet his accomplishments have been seemingly overlooked by the Hall of Fame selection committee for the last eight years. This marks the first time Davis has become a finalist for Hall of Fame recognition.
For all of the reasons Davis deserves to be recognized as a Hall of Famer, there is only one that has kept him from the honor; longevity. Davis was devastated by knee injuries, playing in seven NFL seasons, before hanging them up prior to the 2002 season.
Gale Sayers played seven years in the NFL, Earl Campbell played eight years and Barry Sanders played ten, all of whom are now members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For comparison's sake, we'll compare the numbers of these three players with what Davis accomplished throughout his career.
Player A: played in 115 career games, carrying the ball 2,187 times for 9,407 yards, 74 TDs and 43 career fumbles, averaging 4.3 yards per carry and 81.8 yards per game. This running back also caught 121 passes for 806 yards. In 6 playoff games, he carried the ball 135 times for 420 yards, ,70 yards per game and 4 TDs, averaging 3.1 yards per carry. He also caught 5 passes for 45 yards, while fumbling the ball 6 times.
Player B: played in 68 career games, carrying the ball 991 times for 4,956 yards, 39 TDs and 34 career fumbles, averaging 5.0 yards per carry and 72.9 yards per game. This running back also caught 112 passes for 1,307 yards and 9 TDs. Player B never played in a playoff game.
Player C: played in 153 career games, carrying the ball 3,062 times for 15,269 yards, 99 TDs and 41 career fumbles, averaging 5.0 yards per carry and 99.8 yards per game. This running back also caught 169 passes for 12,080 yards and 5 TDs. In 6 playoff games, he carried the ball 91 times for 386 yards, and 1 TD, averaging 4.2 yards per carry and 64.3 yards per game. He also caught 21 passes for 111 yards, while fumbling the ball once.
Player D: played in 78 career games, carrying the ball 1,655 times for 7,607 yards, 60 TDs and 20 career fumbles, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 97.5 yards per game. This running back also caught 395 passes for 2,921 yards and 10 TDs. In 8 playoff games, he carried the ball 204 times for 1,140 yards, and 12 TDs, averaging 5.6 yards per carry and 142.5 yards per game. He also caught 19 passes for 131 yards, while fumbling the ball 4 times.
Each player's identity will remain a mystery for now. If we look past career numbers, the story is more telling. During a three-year stretch, Davis ran for 5,296 yards on 1,106 carries, 4.8 YPC, 112.7 YPG and 49 TDs. He also caught 103 passes for 814 yards and another 4 TDs. This three-year stretch is widely considered the best stretch a running back has ever had in the NFL. Davis capped this performance off with his 1998 MVP season, where he ran for 2,000+ yards, despite sitting for the equivalent of two games during blowout victories.
Now, going back to our four mystery players. Player A is Earl Campbell, Player B is Gale Sayers, Player C is Barry Sanders, which leaves player D as Terrell Davis.
The career numbers in the regular season for Davis matches up extremely well with the above players, but his numbers in the playoffs make the other backs seem like nobodies.
"Look at the big moments – the playoff games," Davis once said. "If the Hall of Fame is about a person who impacted the game and played at the highest level when the stakes were high, I think I checked all the boxes. If you can raise your game and play at the level I was able to play at during those moments, that speaks for itself."
Was there anyone who played better in big games than T.D? The numbers speak far louder than I ever could. Does Terrell Davis deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? You tell me.