John Elway had waited 15 years — not to mention his entire life — for this moment. And when the Super Bowl XXXII Championship was finally his, it turned out that he, the player the Broncos had relied on to bring them victories ever since he joined the franchise, was not the player who brought them victory. That distinction went to running back Terrell Davis and with it, the Super Bowl MVP.
As the 196th pick in the 1995 draft, the rookie out of Georgia became the lowest-drafted player to rush for 1,000 yards in his inaugural season. His 1,117 rushing yards also made him the the first Bronco to rush for 1,000 yards in four seasons. He had made his mark, and he intended to build on it.
After rushing for over 1,500 in his second season, he began the 1997 campaign as a man on a mission. Davis, along with Dolphins running back Karim Abdul-Jabbar, led the league with 15 rushing touchdowns. His 1,750 rushing yards led the AFC and were second only to Lions running back Barry Sanders' 2,053. He was also second in the league with 369 carries.
Davis carried that momentum deep into the postseason. When Denver hosted the AFC Wildcard Playoff Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Davis set franchise records with the most carries (31), rushing yards (184) and rushing touchdowns (2). Then, against the Kansas City Chiefs, the 1997 AFC West champions, Davis accounted for both Bronco touchdowns. His 101 yards on 25 carries vaulted Denver to a 14-10 victory and into AFC Championship game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
Despite the hostile environment, Davis posted his third straight 100-yard game. On 26 carries, Davis ran up 139 yards and added his fifth postseason touchdown of 1997. His effort launched him into second place for most rushing yards in a single postseason.
Finally, in Super Bowl XXXII, Davis capped one of the most remarkable seasons ever with a 157-yard, three-touchdown performance to help lead the Broncos past the Green Bay Packers for the World Championship. His third touchdown gave the Broncos a 31-24 lead, which they would never relinquish. The effort was more than enough to earn him the Most Valuable Player Award.
So while the press devoted most of their time to Elway, who had finally reached the ultimate prize, Davis was the true hero of Super Bowl XXXII.