- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Denver Broncos reporter
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PHOENIX -- Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis was not among those who got the life-changing news Saturday that is a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Davis was a modern-era finalist for the first time this year, in this his ninth year of eligibility. However, he did not make the first reduction Saturday from 15 modern-era finalists to 10.
The 10 were later trimmed to five -- running back Jerome Bettis, wide receiver Tim Brown, defensive end Charles Haley, linebacker Junior Seau and guard Will Shields -- and those five each received the required 80 percent approval from the Hall of Fame's 46-member Board of Selectors to be in the Hall’s Class of ’15.
All five deserving to be sure, but it means the Broncos, as one of just four franchises to have played in seven Super Bowls, are certainly still vastly under-represented in the Hall of Fame by any objective measure. And they would still be even if Davis was elected.
They have just four Hall of Famers who played either a substantial part of their careers or all of their careers with the team -- John Elway, Floyd Little, Shannon Sharpe and Gary Zimmerman. And just two of those Hall of Famers -- Elway and Sharpe -- played in more than one Super Bowl for a team that has been to more title games in the Super Bowl era than 28 other franchises.
So, do I think Davis deserves to be in the Hall of Fame? Of course.
Do I think he will eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame? I do. It just may not be at the pace either he or his vast legion of supporters would like.
Yes, Davis did play 78 regular-season games in an injury-shortened career. But there are already six running backs in the Hall of Fame who played fewer games than that and the rest of his body of work positions him as one of the best of the Super Bowl era in the biggest moments.
Davis’ 97.5 yards rushing per game in the regular season is the fourth-highest total in league history among running backs who had rushing attempts in at least 75 games, while his 142.5 yards rushing per game in the postseason is the highest average per game in league history for running backs who had rushing attempts in at least five playoff games. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry in the postseason and his team won seven consecutive postseason games in which he rushed for at least 100 yards.
Overall his teams won 91.7 percent of regular-season and postseason games combined when he rushed for at least 100 yards.
And the only two players in league history to average more than 100 yards rushing per game over their careers in regular-season and postseason games combined are Davis and Jim Brown.
The two players in league history who have won the rushing title and the Super Bowl in the same season are Davis and Emmitt Smith. And 12 players have won the league MVP award and the Super Bowl MVP award over the course of their careers and just three of the 12 are not quarterbacks -- Davis, Smith and Marcus Allen.
So, glance at those sentences and see the company Davis keeps, see the Hall of Famers Brown, Allen and Smith. It’s why it may not be as quick as folks want it, may not be without the sometimes arduous march of Hall of Fame time.
But it’s certainly why, in the end, Davis deserves to wear a gold jacket.
Former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis averaged 5.6 yards per carry in the postseason.