At his peak, Terrell Davis was the best running back on the planet.
Unfortunately for Davis, he didn't stay on that peak long enough to hold the attention of Pro Football Hall of Fame voters.
The former Denver Broncos star was not among the 15 modern-era finalists announced Thursday night on NFL Network's "Pro Football Hall of Fame: The Final 15." It marks the seventh consecutive year Davis was a top-25 finalist who didn't survive the next cutdown.
Davis exploded on the scene with the Denver Broncos in 1995, beginning a four-year stretch of dominance that included an NFL MVP, two Super Bowl rings, a Super Bowl MVP and a 2,000-yard rushing season in 1998. He suffered a knee injury the next season, however, and never got all the way back. He hung around for two more seasons and was out of football by his 30th birthday.
"To me, he's Gale Sayers. He was a comet," NFL Media columnist Michael Silver said during the "Final 15" announcement show. "He was a brilliant player whose career was cut short by a knee injury."
Rod Woodson believes Davis deserves enshrinement based on what he called "the Gale Sayers rule." Sayers was another brilliant back whose career was cut short by a knee injury. The former Chicago Bears star was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.
"When TD played, there was only a couple of running backs that we had to game plan for," said Woodson, who was inducted into Canton in 2009. "There were only two, and I played for 17 years. That was Barry Sanders and TD. Without the injury, his numbers would have been outstanding."
Davis' greatness cannot be denied, but we see where the voters are coming from. It's hard to vote Davis in when there are dozens of other deserving players who were stars in the league for a decade or more. (Andre Reed's head may explode if he were to witness TD slipping on a gold jacket.)
Which isn't meant to marginalize what Davis was able to do before the injury. He was amazing. But durability obviously matters to Hall voters.
That's one trait Davis didn't have.