Ter­rell Davis, headed to Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame, be­lieves vot­ers are chang­ing their views.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nicki Jhab­vala

For nearly 15 years af­ter his ca­reer was cut short by in­jury, Ter­rell Davis had to search for a re­tort to the one ques­tion, the one doubt to his oth­er­wise il­lus­tri­ous NFL ca­reer.

Davis — a Super Bowl MVP, league MVP and the Bron­cos’ all-time lead­ing rusher — played “only” seven years. Not long enough for the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame’s se­lec­tion com­mit­tee. At least, not for the first 10 years in which Davis was el­i­gi­ble.

So when he was asked again and again, and when people re­peat­edly ap­proached him and said, “I’m sorry your ca­reer was so short,” Davis would re­spond with the high­lights of when he was healthy and play­ing. His 2,008 yards rush­ing in 1998, the pair of Super Bowl ti­tles, the three Pro Bowl and first-team all-pro se­lec­tions, the two of­fen­sive player of the year awards, the 1,140 to­tal yards rush­ing and 5.6-yard av­er­age in eight post­sea­son games, and on and on.

“Even though it was short, it was a blessed ca­reer. It was a lit­tle unique in that per­spec­tive,” Davis said Thurs­day dur­ing a con­fer­ence call for the Hall of Fame. “Now that this has hap­pened, I don’t ever have to worry about that be­ing an is­sue any­more. Be­cause it was in the back of my mind that, ‘Man, maybe I didn’t play long enough and maybe that would be the one thing the vot­ers would hold against me.’ I feel great that I no longer have to an­swer that.”

In Fe­bru­ary, Davis was sur­prised with a knock on his ho­tel room door from David Baker, the pres­i­dent of the Hall of Fame. In a year when he thought surely he would be re­jected again be­cause LaDainian Tom­lin­son was ex­pected to be lock se­lec­tion, Davis be­came a Hall of Famer on his 11th try. For 10 con­sec­u­tive years, he made it to the semi­fi­nal round of vot­ing. The past three, he was fi­nal­ist.

The evening of Aug. 5, Davis will be en­shrined along with the rest of the Class of 2017. He will get to show off that gold jacket that re­cently ar­rived by mail and un­veil that bronze bust he sat for hours to see through com­ple­tion.

“You just re­mind your­self that this is hap­pen­ing and it re­ally is a sur­real mo­ment to watch it hap­pen and you think about the im­pact of what’s hap­pen­ing,” Davis said. “You have a guy mak­ing a bust of you. That bust is go­ing in Can­ton, Ohio. And it’s go­ing to re­main there for eter­nity and you think about who can go see it and where it is and who it’s go­ing to be placed next to in that room that it’s in and all the great his­tory.

“That’s when it gets a bit over­whelm­ing. Be­cause I never saw my­self as a Hall of Famer. I tried to see my­self as a guy who wanted to work hard and try to win games and cham­pi­onships. But they put me in this room and they se­lected me, so I’m just grate­ful for it.”

And he prob­a­bly will al­ways root for the play­ers whose ca­reers are doubted or ques­tion be­cause of time. Davis got seven years — “I think seven, eight years is a pretty long time to play in the Na­tional Foot­ball League,” he said — but many others get fewer. The Wall Street Jour­nal an­a­lyzed data from 2008-14 and found that play­ers av­er­aged only 2.66 years in the NFL.

“I think that’s the one thing that shouldn’t re­ally be eval­u­ated when you talk about play­ers mak­ing it to the Hall of Fame, is the length of their ca­reer,” Davis said.

“A lot of people be­lieve that be­fore Ster­ling (Sharpe) got hurt — if he didn’t get hurt, this man prob­a­bly would have been one of the great­est wide receivers to play the game. And I agree with that,” Davis added. “So I’m al­ways go­ing to root for the guys whose ca­reers are prob­a­bly tak­ing a knock be­cause they didn’t play long enough, be­cause I know how that feels. But I think things are chang­ing and I think the men­tal­ity and the at­ti­tude to­ward longevity is start­ing to shift a lit­tle bit. And I’m happy to see that.”

John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

Ter­rell Davis, a for­mer Bron­cos star who will be in­ducted into the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame on Aug. 5, played only seven years in the NFL; his ca­reer cut short by in­jury. “Seven, eight years is a pretty long time to play,” he says.

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