This debate has raged on ever since I heard the news about Curtis Martin making it into the Hall of Fame. My simple stance was this: "I would rather have great players for a little time than good players for a longer time." See, I want greatness on my team. I want Randy Moss in 2007 (98 rec, 1493 yds, 23 TD) over Kevin Curtis in 2007 (77 rec, 1110 yds, 6 TD). It isn't that Curtis had a bad season, quite the opposite, he had over 1,000 yards, it's just that I want GREATNESS on my team. Randy Moss was the best WR to ever play the game in 2007. What he did on the football field that year could be measured against the best of the best. If I could jump into a time machine and go back to 2007, I'd pick up Randy Moss over Kevin Curtis every day of the week.
Guess what? The Hall of Fame voters have that very ability. They aren't picking unknown players to get enshrined. Instead, they have full disclosure and full information about how impactful the players are, full information about their stats and their games played, and anything else you might want to know about them. They use this information to pick the best of the best; So how in the world did they pick Curtis Martin over Terrell Davis?
Look, I get it, Curtis Martin had an 11 year career in which he averaged 1,200 yards. That's good, I get it. He was never hurt, so he was ultra dependable. Fantastic. His stats speak for themselves. One doesn't have to asterisks a year or two by saying he had a torn ACL or a broken leg, or anything like that. His stats are what they are, but in that 11 year career, Martin was only a pro-bowler 5 times and 1st team once. Now, lets contrast that with Terrell Davis.
Terrell Davis had a 7 year injury riddled career. He averaged 1,086 yards per year IF you take into account his torn ACL year and count that as an entire season (he played 3.5 games that year) and if you take into account his stress fracture/torn acl year and count it as a full season (he played 4.5 games that year). Take those seasons out of the mix, and he averaged 1,422 yards per season. Take out his injury riddled final season where he retired halfway through, and he averaged an eye-popping 1,603 yards per season! HOLY YOU KNOW WHAT!!!! In his effective 4 year career, TD made the Pro-Bowl 3 times and was a 3 time 1st team All-Pro. He is a Super Bowl MVP and NFL MVP. He also topped 2,000 yards when only 3 people had done it. That in and of itself is remarkable, but when you take into account how many 2nd half games that TD sat out because the Broncos were blowing the doors off of teams, him reaching 2,000 yards is simply astonishing.
See, the issue here is that Terrell Davis DOES have asterisks next to his stats. Nobody is going to count his last 3 years for his Hall of Fame resume unless they try to say that he played for 7 years; but nobody is buying that. He is going to be compared to Gale Sayers in that they played for only a handful of years (4 in TD's case, 5 in Sayers' case), and the Hall of Fame wants to see longevity combined with stats. The flaw to that system is that they shun some truly "all time great" players. They shun TD because he didn't play long enough. They shun Bo Jackson because he didn't play long enough, but ask yourself this, "If you had a time machine and you could enter the 1995 draft and draft either Terrell Davis or Curtis Martin (they were both 1995 draft picks), and you knew that you'd get only 4 years from Davis, or 11 from Martin, who would you pick?" Me? I roll the dice with greatness and I pick TD. TD had more impact on the game in his 4 short seasons than Curtis Martin did in his 11. Curtis Martin will always be remembered for being a back that had longevity. Terrell Davis will always be remembered as being a back that did great things.
Who do you want on your team? A back who's legacy is based off of greatness? Or a back who's legacy is based off of simply not getting injured? This is where the hall of fame drops the ball. I'm taking greatness. I'm taking Terrell Davis. I'm taking Bo Jackson. I'm taking Adrian Peterson (even if his career ended today). I'm taking these running backs not because they can contribute, not because they have the potential to play for a long time, but instead, I'm taking them because they are all-world greats. I want players who were absolutely dominant even when everyone was gunning for them. I want a back who I can ride to championships, not a back that simply keeps me from drafting his replacement for 10 years.
Sound off fellow Broncos fans. Who would you rather have? Terrell Davis (signifying greatness), or Curtis Martin (signifying longevity). Try to be objective and not look through orange and blue glasses. I'm trying to be objective by mentioning Bo Jackson in this article (Raider) and Adrian Peterson (Viking) because I too would take Bo and AP over Martin any day of the week. Lets hear it guys, who do you take? Terrell Davis or Curtis Martin?