Somehow, it seems like this day is here a bit too early.
Not because the opponent is the Jacksonville Jaguars; these fellows are overdue for a visit to INVESCO Field at Mile High, having not visited Denver for any reason since Jason Elam’s 63-yard field goal in October 1998. (That was 10 girlfriends ago. Cripes, it’s been a while.)
No, it’s because Terrell Davis is going into the Ring of Fame. Not because he doesn’t deserve to enter in his first year of eligibility; perhaps no one deserves it more. But as I was thinking about Davis’ induction on Friday, I said, “His career should have been winding to a glorious close by now.”
You hate to think about the what-ifs regarding Davis. For Hall of Fame purposes, you can only judge his career around what was. Actual yardage builds résumé not speculative fiction. Nevertheless, it still seems odd that Davis is five years into his retirement from the field, while guys who arrived before him like Tom Nalen and Rod Smith are still with the team, playing and rehabbing on.
Smith, in particular, finds himself in a similar spot as Davis did earlier in the decade. The two have kept in touch during the years that have passed since Davis walked away from the sport, but the one-time teammates seem closer now than they did when both were in the starting lineup.
“I’m kind of in a parallel situation right now, and I’m trying to fight through a lot of things,” Smith said. “You can’t really talk yourself into it; you’ve got to let your body tell you what the truth is. The experience he went through is one for me to go through, as well. I can always call him.”
Smith can … and does.
“We’ve got some business deals together,” Smith said, “but the thing is, I can always go and relate to that guy. You know, there ain’t a lot of guys you can call for advice. He’s one of those guys you can call for anything. He’ll be there for you.”
While Davis’ rehabilitation work didn’t extend his career beyond eight seasons, it did allow him to come back and contribute in 2000 and 2001, although he remained hindered by the knee. It is the fact that Davis did come back to the field which buoys Smith now.
“One thing I did pick up from him is the fact that it ain’t over ’til it’s over,” Smith said. “You’ve got to go out there and grind it out. Your body will let you know, and his body let him know.”
Today, Broncos fans, officials and former teammates will let Davis know just what he means to the organization’s history. It’s just a shame this day comes now, and not several years later after a 13,000-yard career.