Former Redskins running back Stephen Davis is among the 11 first-year eligible modern-era candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2012. The HOF Selection committee will now whittle the list of 103 nominees down to 25 semifinalists, and that list will be announced in mid-November
Davis’ September to Remember
After filling in at fullback for an injured Larry Bowie in 1998, fourth-year veteran Stephen Davis was ready to return to the halfback position and carry the load for the Redskins in 1999. The only thing was that second-year running back Skip Hicks had the same idea.
“I knew that [Washington head coach] Norv Turner was a guy that liked to run the ball with different types of movements that he had in his offense,” said Davis. “And my main concern was to just win the starting job because I was competing with Skip Hicks. I paid the dues and I did everything as far as to get me into that position to compete for the starting job.”
Davis won the job and was in the starting lineup when Washington hosted Dallas in the season opener on September 12. He carried the ball 24 times for 109 yards and scored two touchdowns in the 41–35 loss.
The Following week, the Redskins traveled to the New Jersey Meadowlands, a site where they had lost on five of their last six visits, to meet the New York Giants. Taking a 21-point lead in the opening quarter on three touchdown runs of 1, 1, and 19 yards by Davis, Washington won, 50–21. That was the team’s highest total since scoring 56 against Atlanta on November 10, 1991. Davis finished with a game-high 126 yards on 23 carries. “The thing that I remember most is that our offensive line was blocking very well. And I know that we scored a lot of points,” Davis said. “[One other] thing that I remember is that we were going for a first down on third-and-1 or fourth-and-1 and the whole Giants defense thought I was down, but I wasn’t. I popped out to the left side and [ran 19 yards for a touchdown].”
The Redskins were back in the Meadowlands a week later on September 26 to play against the New York Jets. And even though Davis came up seven yards shy of cracking the century mark for a third consecutive game, he did find the end zone three more times to help Washington win, 27–20. “Going into that game I knew that [New York’s running back] Curtis Martin was having a good year…and I just wanted to go out there and compete and do the best I can and basically show everybody what I could do,” Davis said.
With 328 yards and eight touchdowns in the first three games, by the time the month of September came to an end, assuredly the rest of the NFL knew what Davis could do. And if they didn’t, surely they did by the end of the season when he broke Terry Allen’s team record with 1,405 yards. “Considering that the record I broke belonged to a guy that I looked up to, it was great,” said Davis, who was selected to play in the Pro Bowl. “When I first got in the pros, he took me under his wing and taught me how to be a pro. He taught me the toughness of it, what it takes day in and day out, and how to use things to my advantage as far as my size and everything. And just being able to have the opportunity to do that and to go out there and do that in the fashion that I did was great.”
Excerpt from “Then Gibbs Said to Riggins…”