Broncos Country is going to be vindicated tonight when our own Terrell Davis finally gets his due with a bust in Canton.
We are all too familiar with the injustice that has been the Pro Football Hall of Fame where the Broncos are concerned (ahem - Pat Bowlen, Randy Gradishar, Steve Atwater).
But tonight we put our jaded feelings aside and revel in the same joy Davis will undoubtedly be feeling - especially knowing that we were a big part of him finally being anointed a Hall-of-Famer.
There will always be the haters.
The ones who want to argue that four years of total domination somehow just doesn’t compare to eight or 10 or 12 of consistently good.
The ones who cannot fathom a game-changer like T.D. who took a franchise from zero Lombardis in 26 years to two in a row.
The ones talking smack who didn’t watch how Davis ran with power and reckless abandon, spinning around tackles and breaking through heaps of defenders he had no business getting past.
But to those haters we will say nothing tonight.
Because we know better - and we always have.
Instead, we will just nod, smirk at their ignorance and give a T.D.-worthy “Mile High Salute” to our hero.
Because despite the naysayers, there will also always be Davis’ supporters - teammates, coaches and diehard fans like us who have never wavered in our belief of T.D.’s rightful belonging in Canton.
NFL.com recently compiled memories about Davis from players and coaches across the league. You should read the entire article because they had some remarkable things to underscore what we’ve all known since 1995. But here are a few of the best:
Anthony Lynn, Broncos’ teammate 1997-1999, current head coach of Chargers:
“The first time I met Terrell, I was coming home from San Francisco, and I was supposed to compete with him. And we went through OTAs and minicamp, and coming out of that minicamp, I knew that, uh, I was destined to be his backup. He was the real deal. He has the stats. He won two championships. But he was the ultimate team player. I remember when I called to congratulate him, you know, he said, "We did it." And that, that's typical Terrell. It's never I or me. It was always we and us. He's the most unselfish player I have ever been around and one of the most intelligent players I have ever been around, but I just wish him all the best, because he is the best.”
Chris Harris Jr., Denver Bronco CB:
“My first impression is just that he always ran hard. And I'll always remember the Mile High Salute. I think he kind of started that. ... He was a complete back. He didn't catch the ball too much, but he was always running between the tackles, and it always took two or three guys to take him down.”
Heath Evans, NFL fullback 2001-10, NFL analyst:
“I think the thing about TD was patience and explosive burst. People knock running backs in that system because they all have 1,000 yards. Well, they don't all have 2,000. He always had a knack for, what we call in the running back room, press, press, press, stretch, stretch, stretch and then hit. He might have been the best at that. He would string the defense out, find a little gap and burst through it in ways that most people aren't capable of doing.”
Bucky Brooks, NFL safety 1994-1998, NFL scout 2000-07, NFL analyst:
“He was a problem. He's a big, fast, physical, downhill runner, and those attributes allowed him to attack the defense. [For me] as a safety, he was a nightmare. He was hard to tackle, and the synergy and connection between the Broncos' offensive line and Terrell made it nearly impossible to stop the offense when he was at his best.”
Marshall Faulk, NFL running back 1994-2005, Hall of Fame Class of 2011:
“Terrell Davis and I, our history goes back well before our pro careers. ... I told him this later on after we met, actually after we retired, part of what shaped my career and created drive for me was understanding what he went through to become the player that he was. Watching him win the Super Bowl, having a thought, thinking to myself, Why can't I do that? Why am I not in that situation? And then I started asking around about things I could do to get better, to become a more complete player, and just watching him have success on a personal level. But on a team level, it drove me to become a better player.”
Wade Phillips, L.A. Rams defensive coordinator, former Broncos DC and coach
“He was a low-round draft pick who burst on the scene and dominated. He was great in the regular season, but he really dominated in the playoffs when it really counted.”
Steve Mariucci, former NFL head coach
“Super Bowl wins are a team accomplishment, but they don't happen without Terrell Davis in Denver. Two thousand yards is in some ways a team accomplishment -- with the offensive line -- but that's so rare. You can't write the story of, "This one's for John," and all of that Denver Broncos history, without Terrell Davis. It doesn't happen. If John Elway is a Hall of Famer, Terrell Davis is one, too.”
LaDainian Tomlinson, NFL running back 2001-2011, fellow HOF Class of 2017 inductee:
“This is a guy that started out on special teams running down on kickoffs hitting people -- to be an All-Pro and now Hall of Famer ... I think it personifies what every player should be about: the team. If I have to run down on kickoffs to earn a spot, that's what I'm gonna do. But eventually, if you do the best job you can do, then other jobs open up. When you get your opportunity, you take full advantage. That's the lasting impression he'll have on players that know his story.”
Kyle Shanahan, son of former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, current 49ers head coach:
“I always felt that Terrell Davis was one of the most underrated players of all time. It was really good to see him get in the Hall of Fame and get the recognition that he deserves. You know, the Denver Broncos, in my opinion, aren't close to winning those two Super Bowls without him. I mean, the run that he had -- I thought he carried those teams both years. Every year that he was there, he was the best running back in the league. And it was unfortunate that it got shortened by injuries, but, you know, when it comes to the outside zone -- and I know that there were some people who had success past him -- but no one was like Terrell. He was one of a kind, and I'm real happy for him that he got his due.”
The Broncos and Bud Light teamed up to congratulate Terrell Davis on his induction in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Now it’s our turn, Broncos Country!
In the comments below, give a Mile High Salute to Terrell Davis with your favorite memory or lasting impression of one of the greatest Broncos and NFL running backs in history.