It is the week of the NFL Scouting Combine, which leads me to this question: Which Denver Broncos Ring of Famer—who had a fine combine—had been recruited by a Hall of Fame head coach, but never played a game for that coach?
Check out the best photos of Terrell Davis, a 2017 finalist for selection into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
T.D. also deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and it is a screaming offense that he is not, but this column deals with the circular path of the NFL Combine and with George Allen as well.
The combine began in 1982 in Tampa, Fla., with NFL teams working with the league to try to make scouting a bit easier. Until that point, teams expended a lot of energy, resources and time sending scouts to a lot of schools for personal workouts. This was an effort to get as many top players in one place at the same time.
The combine moved around a bit in its first years, from Tampa to New Orleans to Arizona, before finally settling at Indianapolis in 1987.
It is a four-day job interview for the top prospects, and this year about 330 have been invited.
Once upon a time, Terrell Davis was one of those, and he attracted way more attention in scouting circles than he had in his college career.
Davis was at Long Beach State under Allen, but never actually played a game for the legendary coach.
The previous year, after a big win by the 49ers (Long Beach State's nickname), the players dumped a cooler of cold water on Allen, who was getting on in years and may have developed pneumonia from the situation.
Allen died, the school disbanded football, and T.D. was looking for a new home. He found it at Georgia, where he did OK but was hampered by injuries.
But postseason all-star games and a strong performance for the scouts led then-Broncos Head Coach Mike Shanahan--pushed politely but hard by offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak--made Davis a sixth-round draft choice, the 196th player taken overall.
But the first college stop for T.D. was also the last one for Allen, who was at Long Beach State for the sheer joy of coaching. And one of the real ironies was that Allen had very little use for young players.
He had great success coaching defense for George Halas and the Chicago Bears, but when he left to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams in 1966, he became noticed by all of pro football.
Halas coached the Rams from 1966 through 1970 and then took over the Washington Redskins, for whom he coached from 1971-77.
And while T.D. would become a starting running back in his rookie year with the Broncos, Allen liked to stick with veterans.
In one of his Washington years not a single rookie made the final roster. Allen took the Redskins to the Super Bowl in 1972.
He had a career head coaching record of 118-54-5 in the NFL, never suffered a losing season and ranked 10th in coaching victories at the time of his retirement.
He was a hard guy to outwork, routinely staying at the office late into the night, and that was before teams had cafeterias and catered meals for coaches. Allen subsisted on one of his favorite foods, peanut butter sandwiches, made in bunches for him by his secretary.
He left no stone unturned and made sure those around him worked just as hard.
When the Redskins arrived at their hotel for a road game, Allen insisted that the hotel chef--not a chef, but the chef--bring a vanilla milkshake to his suite personally, and Allen would then express the level of perfection which he expected at all the team meals.
Allen was a game film and milkshake kind of guy.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the class of 2002, long after the fatal bout with pneumonia, one of the few foes Allen could not lick.
The Broncos' Ring of Fame honors those who have most impacted the franchise to be cemented in team history. (All photos from Denver Broncos photo archives unless noted as from AP Images)
Had that not happened, my guess is he would have seen the same thing in Terrell Davis that Shanahan and Kubiak did, and T.D. would have been in the Long Beach State lineup right away.
Davis, the MVP of Super Bowl XXXII in his native San Diego, went from his southern California roots to Georgia to Denver.
As coaches do, Allen moved quite a bit, with those NFL stops in Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington before ending up in southern California.
And in time, I think Davis will be joining his old coach once again, with that stop in Canton.