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Davis calls it quits in Denver

  |   Aug. 20, 2002 at 4:02 AM
DENVER, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- A throng of nearly 70,000 fans came to Denver's Invesco Field at Mile High Monday night to see veteran running back Terrell Davis in full uniform for the last time as he accompanied his teammates onto the field. Before the contest between the Broncos and San Francisco 49ers, Davis gave the fans his trademark "Mile High Salute."

"Denver has been very good to me. The fans are great and I want to say thank you to them," Davis said. "I have had fan support from other places in the country and I want to say thank you to them as well. I really don't know how to describe what I'm feeling right now. I have so many (emotions) running through my mind right now. This is just amazing."

Davis, limited to 17 games over the last three seasons because of an assortment of injuries, is expected to be placed on injured reserve Tuesday, officially ending his season and unofficially ending his playing career.

"It is tough to realize I am not going to play anymore," he said. "My mind is telling me one thing, but my knees are telling me something else."

His latest injury is a degenerative condition in his left knee that showed no immediate signs of improving. In May, he had surgery on the knee for the second time in six months, but an MRI performed last week revealed an arthritic condition.

"I never thought (about retiring), even when I got back some of the results on my knee. I felt I could come back and work hard to overcome the injury. I always believed that I could play."

By placing him on injured reserve, the Broncos will save $1.2 million against the salary cap this season. He is not expected to send in the official retirement paperwork until after the season.

Davis, just 29, was limited to eight games last season but still led the Broncos with 701 rushing yards on 167 carries. He was the NFL's MVP in 1998, rushing for 2,008 yards, but that was his last full season. He tore the ACL in his right knee in the fourth game of the 1999 campaign.

Davis was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXII, helping the Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers, 31-24.

"It's very unfortunate that Terrell hurt his knees because he could have been one of the best, if not the best, running backs in NFL history," former Broncos quarterback John Elway told the Denver Post.

In his career, Davis rushed for 7,607 yards on 1,655 carries in 78 games. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry and scored 60 touchdowns.

The former sixth-round draft choice out of the University of Georgia in 1995 holds or shares 56 team records, including 21 in the postseason.

"The first thing about Terrell Davis is that he's such a class act," said Coach Mike Shanahan. "Everybody knows he was a great player on the field, but it was also the way he handled himself off the field. He had such a great career here and did so much, he was a dream for me as a coach."

"It was a Cinderella story," wide receiver Ed McCaffrey said of Davis' career. "I'm really proud to be a part of his career and to have known him as a friend and as a teammate."

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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