Joe Davis stumbled into his San Diego home intent on teaching his four youngest boys a lesson.
The boys were sleeping, two to a bed, in the same room, but still, Joe thought this was a good time for a lesson.
It was evident he had too much to drink. He turned on the lights, woke up his four boys and made them sit up. He was talking about how the boys were only worth six cents. Apparently, that’s how much a bullet was worth.
And he preceded to fire shots over each boys’ head. Bam. Bam. Bam. Bam.
Jump ahead to Friday. It was hours before former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis was to receive his Gold Jacket, the distinguished garment bestowed upon members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
He was sitting with 9NEWS, recalling his father, who passed away before Terrell was 13 years old from complications of Lupus.
“He was tough but he was firm, but he was fair,’’ Terrell said. “But he made us the way we are, my brothers and I and he understood the world is not going to be easy on you. So he felt like he had to be harder on us than what we would be in the real world. And he prepared us all.
"I can say this: I have five brothers, six now with an adopted brother and sister. And we’re all alive. Growing up as six black boys in San Diego he thought it was necessary to bring the mentality of 'I’ve got to be hard on you guys because nobody is going to be easy on us.' And I thank him for that. I really do.’’
Yes, but firing bullets over his boys’ heads to get his point across?
“It was unique,’’ Terrell said. “It was unique. But let me tell you this, when he did, though, none of my brothers felt fear. No one felt like we were in danger. It was our normal. That’s what we saw from him. He was just a guy who had a unique way of teaching us lessons. He did that and it was like OK, and he left the room and we all turned the light off and went to bed. And that was it.’’
Since he arrived here for his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, Terrell has felt like pinching himself for joining a club reserved for the best of the best football players.
Few, if any of the other Hall of Fame players, though, had more to overcome in receiving their Gold Jackets than he did. There was his poor San Diego upbringing, his temperamental father, the early death of his dad that him into a two-year emotional funk where he quit football.
His first college coach, George Allen, died, and then the football program was dropped. He suffered two broken ankles at Long Beach State, then struggled so mightily with hamstring injuries at Georgia he fell to the sixth round of the 1995 NFL Draft.
Which of the obstacles was the toughest to overcome on his way to Canton?
“That’s a tough one,’’ Terrell said. “You can throw in those migraine headaches, too. Because remember I’ve been dealing with these since I was a child. I was actually told by the doctor I shouldn’t play football. Because they didn’t know what was happening.’’
Yes, but he sure played a heckuva Super Bowl XXXIII game with migraines. He was the Super Bowl MVP after rushing for 157 yards and three touchdowns.
“Yeah, but I had those migraines when I was 7 years old,’’ he said. “I was dealing with those for a few years before they knew what was happening. So dealing with that as a kid not knowing what’s happening, when they would come, how long they would last. The effects of those things – they were very debilitating headaches.
“So that, death of my dad, dropping the program. I look back on it and, it’s not funny, but it’s you couldn’t make this up.’’
Starting at the beginning. Joe Davis and his wife Kateree were raising six boys in a tough San Diego neighborhood but they were separated. Mom took the two oldest boys. Dad took the youngest four. Terrell Davis was the youngest.
There were other incidents with dad. Joe Davis once shot his best friend. Cops came that night and started screaming at the boys to stand outside at 3 in the morning.
Terrell has often wondered if his late father would be proud of him for making the Hall of Fame.
“I hope I did, I don’t know,’’ Terrell said. “He never told me that. I hope he is. I think about him a lot. I miss him and I wish he was here to see me play. I wish he was here to see this.’’