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Saccomano: Davis deserving of Hall of Fame nod

Check out the best photos of Terrell Davis, a 2017 finalist for selection into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

On the Saturday before the Super Bowl the annual tradition of voting for the Pro Football Hall of Fame takes place, and in this week preceding that vote I would be remiss to not sing the praises, once again, of Terrell Davis.

Davis is completely and absolutely deserving of being honored with induction.

It took him nine years to get "into the room," as the voters put it, and now that he is in, he deserves the bronze bust.

One of the great lines that I have ever heard is from former Bronco linebacker Tom Jackson, now more noted as an ESPN personality.

TJ has said that the reason some guys get overlooks is, "he really WAS that good," meaning as good as his statistics say.

As a preamble, let me throw praise the way of Jeff Legwold of ESPN, who will be the presenter for Davis. Jeff does as thorough a job researching the case for a player as anyone I have known. He looks at all the material available, including, in the case of linemen, the actual coaches' video of every play in a player's career. So I know TD will get a great presentation.

From my standpoint, let's take a look at some stats that Davis accumulated, with an eye toward where he fits into the Hall of Fame cosmos.

There are 45 running backs currently enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Davis is not one of them, but I offer some compelling stats as to why that should change.

He is the only player in the history of pro football, meaning none of the 45 enshrined backs have done this, to have done ALL of the following—

  • NFL regular season Most Valuable Player (1998)
  • Super Bowl Most Valuable Player (1997)
  • A 2,000 yard rushing season (1998)
  • Seven straight postseason games—including two Super Bowl wins—in which his team won each game AND he rushed for 100 yards in each game.
  • Only running back to start for his team in a three-year span (1996-98) in which his team had the most wins in a three-year span in history.

There are only two contexts in which one can look at a player: did he have great statistics, and did his team win the games?

As stunning as the above stats are, and again, he is the only back to achieve all of them—and let us not forget, everyone is to accomplish the feats—they are NOT his only compelling stats.

Again, there are 45 backs currently in the Hall. But in the entire history of pro football, consider this: the Denver Broncos were 37-4 in games in which Davis ran for 100 yards. Not only is that a fantastic stat, but it is the fourth best in the history of the game!

Only Hall of Fame running backs Thurman Thomas, Franco Harris and Jim Taylor have better records. Thomas had 52 wins, Harris had 52, and Taylor had a better percentage but the record was 23-2-1, 14 wins short of TD.

So 42 of the 45 backs in the Hall of Fame did NOT match the 37-4 record of TD, regardless of length of career.

His average rushing yards per game is fourth best in pro football history.

Eleven men have won both the NFL regular season and the Super Bowl MVP awards, and six of the seven eligible are in (Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, Terry Bradshaw, John Elway, Joe Montana and Steve Young). Davis is the only one who is not (the other four, Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are not yet eligible).

Davis is the only running back on this list, and no running back has amassed comparable stats while leading his team to back-to-back world championships since TD in 1997-98, a 16-year span that in fact represents about 15 percent of the entire history of pro football. He is the last great back to amass both these stats and the championships.

Again, lots of guys have done "part of" the above. We are talking about ONE BACK who did all of the above.

Combining all of those stats, here are some well-known Hall of Famers who did not accomplish all of the above: Jim Brown, Marshall Faulk, Larry Csonka, Tony Dorsett, John Riggins, Leroy Kelly, Marcus Allen, John Henry Johnson, Emmitt Smith, Earl Campbell, Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, Curtis Martin, Floyd Little, Eric Dickerson, O.J. Simpson and Barry Sanders.

Just think—the above paragraph includes mention of 17 running backs, but there are 28 MORE running backs not even listed who are in the Hall of Fame!

If you are at the top of those lists, it should not matter how long you played. It did not matter for Sandy Koufax. It did not matter for Gale Sayers. When Roger Bannister ran the first four-minute mile, no one told him he had to keep running until the other guys finished the race.

The body of work for Terrell Davis is magnificent and well worthy of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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