Davis: “We don’t know what the fu­ture holds”

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nicki Jhab­vala The Den­ver Post Nicki Jhab­vala: njhab­vala@den­ver­post.com or @Nick­i­jhab­vala

CAN­TON, OHIO» Terrell Davis isn’t im­mune to the fear that so many other cur­rent and for­mer foot­ball play­ers ex­pe­ri­ence now. With greater aware­ness of con­cus­sions and head in­juries, and with more stud­ies on the preva­lence of chronic trau­matic en­cephalopa­thy (CTE) in the brains of de­ceased play­ers, Davis is con­cerned.

But he’s also thank­ful.

Hours be­fore re­ceiv­ing his gold jacket Fri­day, Davis, the Bron­cos’ all-time lead­ing rusher and a mem­ber of the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017, re­flected on his seven years in the league and a moment that all but so­lid­i­fied his place in the Hall.

Jan. 25, 1998. Su­per Bowl XXXII. Play­ing in his home­town of San Diego, Davis car­ried the Bron­cos to their first Su­per Bowl ti­tle in a 31-24 win over the Green Bay Pack­ers. He was named Su­per Bowl MVP af­ter rush­ing for 157 yards and a record three touch­downs — with a mi­graine.

Shortly af­ter walk­ing to the side­line and telling coach Mike Shana­han he couldn’t see, Davis trot­ted back onto the field to serve as a de­coy.

“I think about that moment a lot be­cause if they had the rules in place then, I don’t go back into that game,” Davis said. “And that changes a lot. Am I here, at this podium? Thank God it didn’t hap­pen like that.”

But those rules — the NFL’S con­cus­sion pol­icy and the rule changes over the years to im- prove player safety — are what give Davis peace of mind in al­low­ing his kids to play foot­ball.

A re­cent study by Bos­ton Univer­sity found CTE in 110 of 111 brains of de­ceased play­ers ex­am­ined. Head in­juries have prompted mul­ti­ple play­ers in their prime to leave the game early. Head in­juries have left many for­mer play­ers with symp­toms that in­clude headaches, anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion and con­fu­sion.

“I can’t lie, we’re all scared,” Davis said. “We’re con­cerned be­cause we don’t know what the fu­ture holds. When I’m at home and I do some­thing, if I for­get some­thing I have to stop to think, ‘Is this be­cause I’m get­ting older or I’m just not us­ing my brain, or is this an ef­fect of play­ing foot­ball?’ I don’t know that.

“Yeah, I’m scared, so I try to stay as ac­tive as pos­si­ble, keep my mind as sharp as pos­si­ble. But I also know the game has gone through great lengths to change, from Pop Warner to the pros. Peo­ple ask me the ques­tion, would you let your kids play? Yeah, I would. Now, 10 years ago I may have said some­thing dif­fer­ent. But now, the way they’re teach­ing kids to tackle, the fact that they iden­tify con­cus­sions a lot faster, they sit you out a cou­ple plays, you’re not going to prac­tice as long. All that stuff is help­ing the game of foot­ball. But, yes, I’m con­cerned.”

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