I've always wondered who would have finished with a better career, Bo Jackson or Terrell Davis, if injuries hadn't cut them short. While Davis was a pure football player Jackson was a two sport athlete, playing both for the Raiders and the Kansas City Royals from 1986 - 90. So taking that into the debate, remember Jackson never played more than 11 games in a season for the Raiders, and was never in pure football shape.
As an avid Raiders fan I watched Terrell Davis line up twice a year for four years knowing he was going to cut through the Raiders defense like a warm knife going through butter. In his fifth season Davis suffered a tear in ACL and MCL cutting his season short, in 2000 he had stress reaction in his lower leg, then in '01 he had surgery on both knees and retired before the '02 season.
Before the injuries Davis was on his way to being a sure fire first ballot Hall of Famer. He was Super Bowl MVP, League MVP, two time Offensive Player of the Year, and a three time Pro Bowler.
Davis rushed for over a 1,000 yards in each of his first four years and went for over 2,000 yards in 1998. That would be the last time he eclipsed the century mark. Also in his first four years he never averaged less than 4.5 yards per carry.
Davis was a touchdown machine as well, during that time period scoring 56 touchdowns in 61 games played, an amazing stat. His last three years he was only able to reach pay dirt four times in 17 games played.
There's a huge difference between Davis pre-injury versus post injury. First four years 6,413 rushing yards, last three years 1,194 rushing yards. His final year was the only year after getting hurt he was able to average over four yards per carry. Who knows what he would've done if he had never had those knee issues.
Also as a Raiders fan I remember getting up on Saturday morning and watching Prostars with Jackson, Wayne Gretzky, and Michael Jordon. However, Jackson's story is a little different, he got hurt in the playoffs against Cincinnati, which ended his pro football career forever. Jackson also was just a part time football player, so his total numbers are a little skewed when first looked at.
Jacksons first year with the Raiders he only totaled 554 yards, but he only apperared in seven games which comes to almost 80 yards a game. Thats almost the exact same as what Davis averaged during his 14 game rookie campaign. In '89 Jackson ran for a career high 950 yards and four touchdowns in just 11 games. That comes to 83 yards per game.
Jackson was a one time Pro Bowler earning the honor his final year in the league. In 1990 he ran for 698 yards on only 125 carries which comes to a whopping 5.6 rushing average. The crazy thing is that's not the highest rushing average Jackson had for a single season. During his rookie campaign in '86 Jackson had a 6.8 rush average, but that was on just 81 carries. He finished with a 5.4 career rush average which is almost a full yard more then Davis's 4.6.
Another factor is Marcus Allen, who was also with the Raiders during Jackson's stint. While Davis was the main horse in the Broncos' stable, the Raiders had two stalions and had to find a way to let both gallop.
So there's a few things to think about what could have been. I didn't want to really get into Jackson's career totals because like I said earlier he was part time and he only lasted four years. It is more about what could have been for both players. So who would have been better? Davis if his knee's held up? Or Jackson if he became full time and never dislocated his hip? We will never really know.