Nobody was more surprised that former Denver running back Terrell Davis was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame than ... well, than former Denver running back Terrell Davis. In fact, on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast he said he was so convinced he wouldn’t make it this year that, before votes were counted, he had his wife prepare a tweet congratulating the Class of 2017 and expressing his hope for the future.
As we know now, she never got a chance to send it.
That's because Davis was one of five modern-era inductees, chosen in his 10th year of eligibility and his third consecutive try as a finalist. Nevertheless, his election was so unexpected -- with longevity the knock on his career -- that Davis admitted he was beginning to lose hope he would ever wind up in Canton.
Except he did.
So it's only fitting that we asked him to offer advice to others who failed to reach the Hall, including wide receiver Terrell Owens. There were seven all-decade finalists who did not make this year's final cut, but it was Owens who drew the most attention ... largely because he made the biggest noise, with the former wide receiver calling the process "a total joke" and his supporters demanding a change in voters, the process or both.
What they fail to recognize, however, is that waiting is part of the process for all but the very few. Like Owens, guard Alan Faneca didn’t make the cut to 10, and he was a nine-time Pro Bowler and eight-time All-Pro. Unlike Owens, he was a first-team all-decade choice.
Owens was second-team all-decade.
Center Kevin Mawae was an eight-time Pro Bowler and nine-time All-Pro. He, too, was first-team all-decade. And while he made the cut to 10, his candidacy stalled there. Safety Brian Dawkins reached the final 10, too, but went no farther. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, six-time All-Pro and, yes, first-team all-decade selection.
"The process is interesting," said Davis. "It's difficult because you only have five slots per year. And so it's difficult to say: 'How do you cram all these players that are deserving to be in the Hall of Fame into that small slot?'
"Tim Brown told me a couple years ago when he was going through it ... he just said, 'Man, Bubba, just be patient, be patient.' And so I have been. I've been patient sort of waiting and understanding the process. And I think that's part of it."
Tim Brown waited six years before he was voted into Canton. So did Cris Carter. Andre Reed waited eight. And Bob Hayes, who changed the game at the wide-receiver position, waited 29 before he was admitted as a senior candidate.
Terrell Owens has been eligible two.
"He feels like he probably should have been in there in Year One," said Davis, "and he will be in there … and that's the thing about it. He will become a Hall of Famer. It's just a matter of when. And so I say the same thing to him: Man, you've just got to be patient.
"And the other thing is: You can't control what happens in that room at this point. The work is done, and you're basically at the mercy of you guys, and you're the voters. And I'm not sure how much the relationship part of it works in this. I don’t know that for sure.
"But, I don't know, I'd just tell him at this point, 'There's nothing you can do about it, man. Just be patient, and, hopefully, it happens next year for you.' "