A SALUTE TO AND FROM T.D.

Bron­cos’ Davis scores in­duc­tion into Hall

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

For­mer Bron­cos run­ning back Terrell Davis de­liv­ers his pop­u­lar Mile High Salute to the crowd at his in­duc­tion into the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame in Can­ton, Ohio, on Satur­day night. The en­shrine­ment cer­e­mony took place at Tom Ben­son Hall of Fame Sta­dium. Com­plete cov­er­age of the Hall of Fame cer­e­mony »

CAN­TON, OHIO» Terrell Davis said he wasn’t going to cry. He en­vi­sioned how this all might play out and he tried to pre­pare him­self as best he could, and if any­one was bet­ting on him shed­ding tears, well, odds were against it. So he said. Davis has been a blub­ber­ing mess for days as his dreams nearly two decades in the mak­ing have f in­ally been re­al­ized.

But Satur­day night, in front of a crowd that in­cluded his for­mer Bron­cos coaches and team­mates as well as his fam­ily, Davis re­mained com­posed and poised as he was en­shrined in the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame, be­com­ing the fifth Bronco with a bronze bust in Can­ton’s hal­lowed halls.

Pre­sented by his long­time agent, Neil Schwartz, who promised Davis nearly 23 years ago that he would be here, Davis stood at the cen­ter of Tom Ben­son Hall of Fame Sta­dium to un­veil his bust and slowly rat­tle off his lengthy list of thank yous, from his of­fen­sive line, to his coaches, to his Pop Warner coach, Frank White, to his wife and fam­ily.

Seated in the au­di­ence to the right of the sta­dium was his for­mer Den­ver coach, Mike Shana­han; his of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, Gary Ku­biak; his run­ning backs coach, Bobby Turner; Bron­cos pres­i­dent and CEO Joe El­lis; and a con­tin­gent of for­mer team­mates. Seated

just feet from the podium were his quar­ter­back, John El­way, and tight end, Shan­non Sharpe, both don­ning their own Hall of Fame gold jack­ets. And in the front row was his mother, Kateree, wear­ing a blue No. 30 Bron­cos jersey with “Terrell’s Mom” on the back, as well as his wife, two sons and daugh­ter.

“When I first learned that I had been elected to the Hall, I was asked how I might feel wear­ing this gold jacket and stand­ing next to my bust. I guess I’d be ex­cited, but I re­ally didn’t know,” Davis told the crowd. “But now I can say the over­whelm­ing feel­ing run­ning through my body today is grat­i­tude. I am grate­ful to the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee. I am grate­ful to be join­ing this elite fra­ter­nity with all these men. I am grate­ful to my friends and fam­ily and grate­ful to this won­der­ful game of foot­ball.”

The youngest of six boys, Davis re­called his jour­ney that started in San Diego and led him to the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia and then to Den­ver and now Can­ton. His mo­ti­va­tion, he said, was a love of the game and of his fa­ther, whose pass­ing, Davis said, was “the great­est pain I would ever ex­pe­ri­ence.”

“I loved the phys­i­cal­ity of the game, but I had also con­vinced my­self that play­ing foot­ball pro­vided me a way to gain my dad’s ap­proval by prov­ing I was tough,” Davis said. “That’s what drove me. I loved the game, and gain­ing my dad’s ap­proval.”

For six months, since he was se­lected as a mem­ber of the Class of 2017 back in Fe­bru­ary, Davis has lived a whirl­wind and sur­real life that he re­mem­bers in mo­ments.

He re­mem­bers sit­ting in a room while a stranger etched the fi­nal de­tails into a bust that will live along­side the game’s greats in Can­ton.

He re­mem­bers stand­ing in that UPS store as he ripped open a Hag­gar Cloth­ing bag and first laid eyes on The Gold Jacket.

He won’t for­get sit­ting in a high school au­di­to­rium turned into a makeshift press room, where he re­called mem­o­ries of his seven-year NFL ca­reer and the re­la­tion­ships he built along the way.

And he thought about his fa­ther, Joe Davis, of­ten won­der­ing what he would think of this spec­ta­cle and of his son.

“My dad never saw me play in the Na­tional Foot­ball League, and un­til this day, I think about him and I won­der, did I gain his re­spect?” Davis said. “Dad, I hope you’re look­ing down, smil­ing and ut­ter­ing the words: ‘Son, I’m proud of you.’ ”

He’s thought about his broth­ers, all re­united in Can­ton for the first time in years to cel­e­brate what Davis said is a group ac­com­plish­ment.

And he’s thought about all those times he told re­porters and fans that, if he never got the Hall of Fame nod, he would still be sat­is­fied with a ca­reer that was book­ended with pun­ish­ing hits and packed with a pair of Su­per Bowl ti­tles, a Su­per Bowl MVP award, a league MVP award, a mem­ber­ship to the 2,000-yard club, and a slew of Bron­cos rush­ing records. Those were lies, he ad­mit­ted. Then on Fri­day, in­side the Can­ton Civic Cen­ter, where he was sur­rounded by dozens of fel­low Hall of Famers, Davis stood on an­other stage and thought about noth­ing but the present.

High­lights of his con­densed ca­reer aired as Davis stood in the dark, Schwartz by his side with the gold jacket in hand. When the lights cut on, Schwartz slipped off Davis’ gray suit jacket and slipped on the jacket. A wide smile stretched across Davis’ face as the au­di­to­rium erupted in cheers and he looked out and gave three Mile High Salutes.

Re­ceiv­ing the jacket Fri­day was one of the mo­ments he longed for in each of the 11 years he was el­i­gi­ble to en­ter the Hall. But it was just the “tip of the ice­berg,” as Davis had been told by oth­ers who en­tered the Hall be­fore him. Un­veil­ing the bust Satur­day that will rest eter­nally in the Hall of Fame was the other.

All left Davis in a state of elated shock and filled with a mix of emo­tions that he tried to anticipate, know­ing full well he couldn’t. Not as he ar­rived at the place of his dreams.

“Pre­par­ing for today was like pre­par­ing for a foot­ball game,” Davis said. “It has re­quired ev­ery­thing I could pos­si­bly give and it has changed my life.”

Terrell Davis made it. Fi­nally.

Nicki Jhab­vala: njhab­vala@den­ver­post.com o r@n ick­i­jhab­vala

John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

Terrell Davis gives his mother, Kateree Davis, a kiss dur­ing the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame en­shrine­ment cer­e­mony in Can­ton, Ohio, on Satur­day.

John Leyba ,T he Denve rp ost

Bron­cos Hall of Famers John El­way, Floyd Lit­tle, Shan­non Sharpe and Gary Zim­mer­man pose with new mem­ber Terrell Davis af­ter Davis’ in­duc­tion speech at the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame en­shrine­ment cer­e­mony in Can­ton, Ohio, on Satur­day night. “I am grate­ful to be join­ing this elite fra­ter­nity,” Davis said.

John Leyba ,T he Denve rp ost

Davis and his long­time agent, Neil Schwartz, un­veil his Hall of Fame bust Satur­day night.

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