For about 16 years, Terrell Davis relied upon the peaks of his career and the friendships he made to hold off the nagging question of whether he wished he could have extended his career.
Recent Pro Football Hall of Fame electee and Broncos legend Terrell Davis stopped by minicamp practice Tuesday. (photos by Gabriel Christus unless noted)
His Pro Football Hall of Fame candidacy had been perennially hampered by his longevity, and Davis knew that those doubts could have been quashed if he could have played another year or two.
But now, with less than a month before he is officially enshrined, Davis no longer has to face those questions.
"Now that this has happened, I don't ever have to worry about that being an issue anymore," Davis said on a Thursday conference call, "because it was in the back of my mind that maybe I didn't play long enough and maybe that would be the one thing that the voters would hold against me. I feel great that I no longer have to answer that."
In the years leading to this point, Davis had always been cautious. On the day the Hall of Fame told finalists their fate, Davis had steeled himself for being passed over for a third straight year. Instead, he was to be surprised by good news.
Now he has let himself breathe and enjoy the moments that this honor has provided, from the sculpting of his Hall of Fame bust to the measuring of his gold jacket.
"When you see the bust when you're in the room and it comes in and it's halfway done — and by the time he leaves, it's fully completed — man, you just remind yourself that this is happening and it really is a surreal moment to watch it happen and unfold," Davis said. "And you just think about the impact of what's happening. You have a guy making a bust of you. That bust is going to 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 contains all that great history. That's when it gets a little bit overwhelming."
Davis' wife and family will take in all these moments with him. They talk about the process almost every day, he said, and they've soaked it all in and cherished every part of it. That includes what's to come after the Hall of Fame enshrinement weekend, too.
"We're going to take it all in and enjoy it," Davis said. "It gets better. I've spoken to some Hall of Famers. They tell you every time that, 'This is just the tip of the iceberg for you, T.D.' I'm thinking, 'Man, if this is a test, I can't imagine what that iceberg is going to feel like when I'm actually able to see it.'"
And through all the waiting, Davis heard and saw immense support from Broncos Country. He saw the billboard fans paid for in Canton and he's heard the encouragement fans have offered.
"I think back to a year ago, two years ago, when I'm looking at some of the billboards that the fans were putting up and the support the fans gave me for the push to the Hall of Fame," Davis said," and that's unique — to watch people spend money to try to put you into the Hall of Fame when I haven't played for the Broncos in over 16 years. The love and support that I've seen when I'm driving around the country and going to all these speaking engagements and appearances, it's real, man, and I feel it and I thank them for it."