NFL Preseason History: What if Terrell Davis Didn't Rock on the Kickoff Team for the Denver Broncos?

The following post is merely a satirical prediction of how the alteration of one moment in history changed the world as we know it. There is no such alternate universe as LeChamp James.

What Happened in This Universe

A lot of NFL fans, understandably, get bored when watching the preseason.

They just want to watch the first quarter and, based on what they see of the performance from the teams' starters, predict the success (or failure) of their upcoming season.

Who cares about the sixth-string tailback? There's no way he'll impact the future of the NFL, right?

Well, in a 1995 preseason game in Tokyo between the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos, a sixth-round running back named Terrell Davis got the Broncos' attention by lighting up the 49ers' kickoff returner, as shown in the YouTube video below.

Davis was named the starting running back for the 1995 season opener.

In a three Pro Bowl career, he led Denver to a 31-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII by running for 157 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries. As a result, Davis was named the game's MVP.

In 1998, Davis became the fourth running back in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards while carrying the Broncos to a second consecutive Super Bowl victory.

What Happened on the Universe LeChamp James

LeChamp James is an alternate universe just like the one on which we live.

Except, due to a few tweaks in past events, it goes through a different course through history.

Why is it named LeChamp James? The name is dedicated to the memory of LeBron James, who by now has won multiple championships in a league that (due to the lockout) shall remain nameless.

And he didn't take his talents to South Beach. But that's another story for another post.

Anyway, in this alternate universe, Davis didn't light up the 49ers' kickoff returner in the 1995 preseason. Instead, he tore his Achilles tendon running on the AstroTurf.

In his senior season at Georgia, Davis missed three games due to a torn hamstring, so his injury was not a surprise.

As a result of it, Davis ended up getting released by the Broncos before the season opener. He was out of football soon afterwards.

With Denver out of the way, the Packers won their second consecutive Super Bowl, beating Kordell Stewart and the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-21 in SB XXXII.

Green Bay, led by Mike Holmgren and Brett Favre, won two more Super Bowls in the next five years. Satisfied with the success of his career, Favre retired in 2003 and never played again.

Never waffling over the decision to return to the NFL. Happily mowing his lawn in Mississippi.

Which is more than I can say about John Elway.

Still burdened by the unfinished business of winning a Super Bowl, Elway retired after the 1998 season -- only to approach Broncos owner Pat Bowlen during the 1999 training camp about the prospect of returning to Denver.

Deciding, instead, to move forward with 1997 second-round draft pick Jake Plummer, the Broncos traded Elway to the Philadelphia Eagles. Influenced by the advice of newly-appointed offensive coordinator Brad Childress, new head coach Andy Reid flew out to California to meet with Elway in March.

After the meeting, the Eagles drafted Ricky Williams (instead of Donovan McNabb) and traded for Elway.

Elway and Williams led the Eagles to the NFC Championship Game, where a costly interception sent the Packers to their third Super Bowl appearance in four years.

In the offseason leading up to the 2000 season, Elway and Williams were arrested for possession of marijuana. Rather than face an inevitable suspension, they both retired.

They now live in Amsterdam.

The Lesson?

Sometimes, a special teams play in the preseason can impact the NFL with more ferocity than a game-winning touchdown in the playoffs.

And the next time you see an unknown rookie lighting up a play on special teams in a preseason game, remember his name.

It may be uttered again in the Super Bowl.

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