Davis’ short career ends spectacularly
CANTON, Ohio — Terrell Davis had one of the most spectacular, although short, NFL careers. But his seven seasons were brilliant enough to get him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The former Broncos running back was inducted Saturday night. He went from an obscure sixth-round draft pick from Georgia to a league MVP and two-time Super Bowl winner. Davis was the catalyst for the NFL titles Denver won in 1997 and 1998 with another Hall of Famer, John Elway, at quarterback.
He was joined in the 2017 class by safety Kenny Easley, running back LaDainian Tomlinson, kicker Morten Andersen, defensive end Jason Taylor, quarterback Kurt Warner
and Dallas Cowboys owner and North Little Rock native Jerry Jones. The induction ceremony was ongoing at press time, and Jones had yet to be enshrined.
The 1996 and 1998 Offensive Player of the Year, 1997 Super Bowl MVP and 1998 NFL MVP, Davis’ meteoric stint came to an ugly end with a knee injury in 1999. That, in great part, kept him out of the Hall for more than a decade.
Now he’s in, with a resume including one of the greatest seasons in the NFL. In 1998, Davis became the fourth runner to rush for 2,000 yards in a season (2,008) and led the NFL with 21 touchdowns rushing. In the 1998 playoffs, he rushed for a franchise postseason-record 199 yards against the Dolphins, then for 167 yards against the Jets, and 102 yards in the 1999 Super Bowl victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
During his speech, delivered in a burst of rain that temporarily thinned the crowd, Davis talked about once “staring down the barrel of a shotgun” as a troubled teenager.
“Thank god someone talked the guy out of pulling the trigger,” said Davis, who then determined to turn his life around.
Andersen, the NFL’s career scoring leader, became just the second place-kicker inducted into the Hall.
Andersen played 25 pro seasons, a league record, mostly for the Saints. He also was with the Falcons, Giants, Chiefs and Vikings, playing 382 total games.
The left-footed kicker from Denmark — his selection in
February set off celebrations back home, where American football hardly is a sports staple — scored 2,544 points (565 field goals, 849 extra points). He is the all-time scoring leader for both New Orleans and Atlanta and was a five-time All-Pro.
“Good evening, Canton, Ohio,” he began. “Good morning, Denmark.
“My story isn’t only about my love for my country of Denmark and its people,” he said, “but also my deep appreciation and respect for what I discovered here in the United States of America.”
The sack master Taylor was elected in his first year of eligibility.
A star mostly with Miami, Taylor also spent one season with the Redskins and one with the Jets. In his 15 NFL seasons, he was a three-time All-Pro and the 2006 Defensive Player of the Year. He had 13½ sacks, 2 interceptions returned for touchdowns, 11 passes defensed, 10 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and 62 tackles that season.
Easley, a hard-hitting safety for the Seahawks and a member of the 1980s All-Decade Team, also was inducted.
A seniors committee choice, Easley played only seven seasons and 89 games for Seattle. His career was cut short by kidney disease.
The 1981 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Easley was the league’s top overall defender in 1984 when he had a league-leading 10 interceptions, a career high.
Easley, who was presented for induction by his high school coach, Tommy Rhodes, retired after the 1987 season. He had to wait 24 years before being voted into the hall.