ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **No matter what happens when the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee gathers to choose the 2015 class of inductees on Jan. 31, Terrell Davis has drawn closer to joining the sport's most exclusive club.
The Broncos' all-time leading rusher, 1998 Most Valuable Player and Super Bowl XXXII MVP finally made the cut to the list of finalists, putting him "in the room" and into discussion for induction for the first time.
Another former Bronco, safety John Lynch, joins him. Lynch was a first-time finalist last year.
Davis only had four years in which he was fully healthy before knee problems brought his career to a premature end. But what his career lacked in longevity, it made up in excellence: four 1,000-yard seasons, a Super Bowl MVP trophy, NFL MVP honors in 1998, a 2,000-yard season and the finest sustained playoff work for any runner in NFL history: seven consecutive 100-yard games in the 1997 and 1998 postseasons.
Check out the best photos of Terrell Davis, a 2017 finalist for selection into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Nevertheless, for years, Davis' perception for the Hall of Fame took a hit because of the 1,000-yard runners that followed him in the Broncos' lineup under then-head coach Mike Shanahan: Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis, Reuben Droughns and Tatum Bell. They made it seem as though any running could become a 1,000-yarder upon insertion into the Broncos' starting lineup, because of the quality of the zone-blocking system and the offensive linemen who executed it.
The truth was something different.
"I think Tommy Nalen told me one time, 'He makes up for a multitude of sins that we would commit up front,' because there were a lot of times where there was nothing," said guard Brian Habib, a starter in the Broncos' Super Bowl XXXII win. "You'd watch the tape and on the front side of a play there might not be anything and he'd still make yardage."
Lynch played four seasons with the Broncos (2004-07), all of which ended in Pro Bowl selections. As a Bronco, Lynch also won the Byron "Whizzer" White NFL Man of the Year award in 2006, while building a charitable presence in the Denver area that continues to this day.
Check out the best photos of John Lynch, a 2020 finalist for selection into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But Lynch will stand for the Hall of Fame on his playing merits, and they are extensive: nine Pro Bowl appearances, four All-Pro selections and a role as secondary anchor of a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that from 1997-2002 was one of the best in recent NFL history.
Lynch followed his 2004 release by the Bucs with a terrific second act in Denver. He became a team leader, remained one of the hardest-hitting safeties in the game and led the Broncos to the 2005 AFC Championship Game.
While Davis and Lynch made the cut from 26 to 15, linebacker Karl Mecklenburg, safety Steve Atwater and cornerback Ty Law did not. Law, who played for the Broncos in 2009, is in his first year of eligibility. Ring of Famers Atwater and Mecklenburg are perennial nominees, but neither has been a finalist. The three survived the cut from 113 preliminary nominees to 26 semifinalists.
The 15 finalists join two nominees from the contributors category -- executives Ron Wolf and Bill Polian -- and Seniors Committee nominee Mick Tinglehoff.
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