There is always the famous question of what if. What if this, what if that. Well I have an opinion on one of the biggest NFL what ifs of all-time. What if Terrell Davis had never gotten injured? Would he have been the best running back of all-time? I believe there is a very good case for it.
Former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis was the most dominate back of his time, unfortunately his time only lasted seven seasons, only four of which he was fully healthy to play.
Davis ran for over 6,400 yards in his first four seasons, including the 1998 season where he ran for 2,008 yards. He is one of only five players to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season. The 1998 season would be Terrell's fourth and final full season in the NFL before suffering a knee injury that he would never fully recover from within the first few weeks of the '99 campaign.
Davis tried returning to the Broncos after his injury but would only play in 16 games over the next three seasons before officially retiring in 2002.
However, before injury forced him to retire early, Davis did other things besides rush for more yards than any other back during his first four years. Davis was named Offensive Player of the Year in '96 and in '98, led his team to two Super Bowls, and was named both Super Bowl and League MVP in 1998. Davis was a three time pro-bowl selection, and a three time first-team all-pro selection.
At this point, to many people may think Davis just sounds like any other Hall-of-Fame running back. However, since Davis rushed for over 6,400 yards in his first four seasons, he would've only needed just less than 12,000 more yards to break the now all-time mark set by Emmitt Smith of 18,355 yards. 12,000 yards is a lot, but since Davis was averaging 1,600 yards a season, it would've only taken him about 8 seasons to set the record, two less seasons than Emmitt played.
But how could someone keep up an average of 1,600 yards per season right? Well, we all know the Broncos have a special scheme at rushing that they can make schmucks like Tatum Bell and Mike Anderson run for over 1,000 yards a season. Just imagine if they still had an All-Pro rusher in the backfield. Not hard to believe anymore is it?
After the total rushing yards, we look at touchdowns. Davis scored 56 touchdowns in his first four seasons. Again, if Davis keeps up his average of 14 TD's a season, he could break Emmitt's record of 164 in just 12 seasons, which is again two seasons less than Emmitt played, so there would've been room for Davis to drop his average a bit.
Even though there is always room for argument about who is the best back of all-time, I believe Terrell Davis definitely had the talent to be, and looking at the start of his career, he was definitely on pace for many records. Injuries are a part of football, and we will never know if he would've been able to keep up his stats, but there is always the what if. What if Terrell Davis was the Jim Brown or Walter Payton of our time? What if?