Broncos ponder how to jam Jamal

Birds plan to get dirty with TD

Focal Point: Super backs

Broncos: Terrell Davis' 18 flip

Falcons: Jamal Anderson's sprint draw

Griffith the unsung solider for Broncos

  Thursday, Jan. 28 5:11pm ET
Davis, Anderson share more than greatness
By Greg Garber, special to

MIAMI -- Terrell Davis and Jamal Anderson, the same man in so many ways.

  Jamal Anderson
 Jamal Anderson says he and Terrell Davis "share a bond."

This week in Super Bowl XXXIII, they are natural adversaries, the epicenters of their respective teams. But is it really so astonishing that they are friendly -- indeed, friends? That they share information about common opponents? Speak almost weekly on the phone?

Never before have the league's No. 1 and No. 2 runners met in the crucible of the Super Bowl. The prospect of this collision approaches delicious.

Davis has gained 2,374 yards in 18 games this season, an NFL record. The previous record was the 2,331-yard total he produced last year.

Anderson, who set a regular-season record with 410 carries, has run for a mere 2,026 yards in 18 games.

Theirs is a club so exclusive there are only two members. Breathtaking, unnatural talent, uncommon tenacity -- and mutual admiration -- are the only requirements.

"Terrell, statistically speaking, is the best," Anderson says. "He's terrific. He is the running back I aspire to be."

  In the 1994 draft, 23 backs were selected ahead of Jamal Anderson. Here's a look at who they were and where they were picked:
  Player Team Pick
  Marshall Faulk Indianapolis 2
  Greg Hill Kansas City 25
  William Floyd San Francisco 28
  Errict Rhett Tampa Bay 34
  Chuck Levy Arizona 38
  Charlie Garner Philadelphia 42
  Mario Bates New Orleans 44
  Donnell Bennett Kansas City 58
  Jeff Cothran Cincinnati 66
  Lamar Smith Seattle 73
  Calvin Jones L.A. Raiders 80
  James Bostic L.A. Rams 83
  LeShon Johnson Green Bay 84
  Bam Morris Pittsburgh 91
  Gary Downs N.Y. Giants 95
  Raymont Harris Chicago 114
  Sean Jackson Houston 129
  Dorsey Levens Green Bay 149
  Tony Vinson San Diego 160
  Lamont Warren Indianapolis 164
  Robert Strait Cleveland 171
  Fred Lester N.Y. Jets 173
  Anthony Daigle Kansas City 185
  Jamal Anderson Atlanta 201

Says Davis, "Jamal is a great, great running back. He's getting better and better every year. You wonder when, or if he is ever going to level off."

Both running backs have had 13 100-yard games this season. The consensus among experts is the team with the more effective runner Sunday at Pro Player Stadium, the one who clears 100 yards with the most to spare, will win. Simple as that.

Neither player says he remembers exactly when they first met. Through a mutual friend they have known of each other for at least eight years.

Charlie Brown was a running back and teammate of Davis' at Lincoln Prep in San Diego. When Brown went to Utah, he met Anderson.

"I would talk to (Brown) on the phone, and we'd always talk about Jamal," Davis says.

Anderson matriculated to the NFL a year earlier than Davis, 1994. He very nearly went undrafted. Anderson was the 201st choice, going in the seventh round. He was the 24th running back taken. At 235 pounds, the Falcons figured he had a chance as a reserve fullback.

Davis was the 196th choice of the 1995 draft. The Denver Broncos selected him in the sixth round; he was the 21st running back to go. They had heard he had a bad attitude, and they already had enough running backs, but Davis was rated as a third-rounder, so they took a chance.

"We share a bond," Davis says. "Nobody expected much from either one of us."

"Our motivation," Anderson says, "is still to prove everybody wrong."

And so, as they have grown in the NFL, they have grown on each other.

Once every few weeks, the cellular phone rings in Denver or Atlanta.

"Most of the time we don't really talk about football," Davis says. "What we talk about mostly is life. Things that are going on. I treat Jamal like a person, and he treats me the same way.

"It's about 'Hey, what's going on down there? Are you coming to town? Want to hang out? Let's do that.' Stuff like that."

As the week wore on in Miami, both runners shied away from talking about their intimate network of information sharing. But last week Anderson acknowledged they help each other.

  In the 1995 draft, 20 backs were selected ahead of Terrell Davis. Here's a look at who they were and where they were picked:
  Player Team Pick
  Ki-Jana Carter Cincinnati 1
  Tyrone Wheatley N.Y. Giants 17
  Napoleon Kaufman L.A. Raiders 18
  James Stewart Jacksonville 19
  Rashaan Salaam Chicago 21
  Ray Zellars New Orleans 44
  Sherman Williams Dallas 46
  Terrell Fletcher San Diego 51
  William Henderson Green Bay 66
  Curtis Martin New England 74
  Zack Crockett Indianapolis 79
  Joe Aska L.A. Raiders 86
  Rodney Thomas Houston 89
  Larry Jones Washington 103
  Aaron Hayden San Diego 104
  James Stewart Minnesota 157
  Ryan Christopherson Jacksonville 169
  Travis Jervey Green Bay 170
  Cory Schlesinger Detroit 192
  Dino Philyaw New England 195
  Terrell Davis Denver 196

"He'll say, 'Jamal, what do you see with the Miami defense?' " Anderson said. "And I would tell him how certain guys played, and what to watch out for. He does the same for me."

Stylistically, they are quite different. Anderson, whose thighs are 30 inches, is more of a power back. Davis, whose waist is not much thicker, relies more on speed.

"They run a lot more straight-ahead dive plays than we do," Anderson says. "We kind of roll into a hole, and I'm allowed to find my way through. Terrell hits the hole a lot faster. Then, he decides if he wants to make you miss or run around you.

"I can go the same way. I like to run people over, but I'm just fast enough to get away from people, too. The biggest difference between me and Terrell is 25 pounds. I'm thicker, but he's faster."

They will be running against each other's defense Sunday, but in some ways they are running for each other.

"When he was the (Super Bowl) MVP last year, I was like 'Yes!' " Anderson says. "It was because we were both overlooked. Terrell was carrying the flag for all the guys who had been drafted in the late rounds. Every time Terrell did something, I felt like he was doing it for me."

This year, Anderson joined Davis in carrying the banner.

"To be in a situation where it's both of us for the championship," Anderson says, "I think it's going to be great.

"I think it's going to be a lot of fun.''

Great. Fun. Great fun for all of us.

The two runners spent some time together this week. Davis helped out Anderson with a post-Super Bowl video he is preparing. Anderson chided Davis.

"Man," Anderson said, "don't you go for 300 yards on Sunday."

Davis smiled.

"Now,'' he said, "don't you go for 300."

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