CANTON, Ohio — Even at his own Hall of Fame press availability, Terrell Davis was thinking of others.
Asked about the dearth of Broncos in the Hall of Fame, he rattled off a list of names he hoped to see enshrined: Steve Atwater, John Lynch, Rod Smith, Jason Elam.
And then he turned to a man who has done far more for Davis and Denver than craft a team that wins football games.
"Hopefully [Owner] Pat Bowlen gets in now," said Davis on Friday afternoon ahead of the Enshrinees' Gold Jacket Dinner. "[We'll] try to get him in as soon as he can."
Davis' appreciation for Bowlen stems beyond the on-field accomplishments — more Super Bowl appearances (7) than losing seasons (5), 300-plus wins, 13 division titles — and off-field contributions.
Rather, Davis spent Friday talking less about the Broncos' owner's credentials for the Hall of Fame and more about Bowlen as a man.
During the course of several minutes, Davis made clear Bowlen supported him during both the highs and lows of his career.
Ahead of a 1997 exhibition game in Mexico City, Davis flew down with Bowlen for a press conference before the Broncos played the Dolphins.
"I had a chance to fly down there with him on his airplane," Davis said. "We ... had a press conference before the game and man, it was just a chance to sit and talk with Pat. I'd talked to him before, but not like that, and it just gives you a greater sense of who he is as a man. He's got a huge heart. Pat was not about the bottom line. He wasn't about, 'Let's see if we can make billions of dollars.' Pat was trying to build the best team.
"He was going to do whatever it took to make sure he gave you what you needed to be successful, and he was about relationships. And he didn't want any credit for it."
Two Super Bowls victories later, as Davis looked to lead the Broncos following John Elway's retirement, an injury cut his season short.
In the ensuing days, neither his teammates nor the training staff were the first to call to check in on him.
"When I tore my ACL, Pat called me," Davis said. "And I didn't expect the owner to call me after I tore my ACL. That's kind of like, you expect the trainers, maybe a teammate, maybe your position coach to call you. He was the first one to call me. That little gesture that he did, it meant the world to me. I'd run through a brick wall for that man. And he was always that.
"Whether I needed extra Super Bowl [XXXII] tickets in San Diego. I was like, 'Pat, I've got a lot of family.' He was like, 'Don't worry about it. I got you.' And I was able to take a lot of people to the game. He was just a man that if you needed anything, he'd always check up on you. Just very personable."
And because of Bowlen's generosity and genuine interest in his players, Davis never wondered what a playing career outside of Denver would entail.
"I heard some horror stories who went to other places and then came back and were like, 'Uh, the grass is not greener on the other side,'" Davis said. "Here's a good testament to Pat Bowlen. Most guys, when you're on a team, you kind of wonder, 'What does it feel like to play for the 49ers? What does it feel like to play for the Dallas Cowboys?' I never once had a thought of what [it would] feel like to play for another team.
"That, to me, sums it up. Because everything I needed was there. Everything I ever wanted was there. The idea of an owner, of a team that was run like a first-class organization was right where I was. So I didn't have the need to think about some other team and how they function and how they went about doing things."
Bowlen's way was more than good enough – and on the eve of Davis' Hall of Fame induction, he made sure everybody knew it.
Check out the best photos of Terrell Davis, a 2017 finalist for selection into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.