Health and longevity are two important factors that weigh heavily into NFL players' chances of making it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Players who suffer one serious injury, or are plagued by several during their careers, often have a hard time finding their way to Canton.
It's extremely difficult to overcome a career defined by injuries. However, certain players have been able to overcome such troubles and still produce a legendary career against the odds.
Here are three NFL players who have been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame despite dealing with serious injuries during their playing careers.
#1 - Gale Sayers
Gale Sayers got off to one of the best career starts by any running back in NFL history. During his first five seasons with the Chicago Bears (1965-1969), he was selected as a first-team All-Pro. He also finished in the top five of the NFL MVP voting in each of those five seasons.
Sayers is one of the most dynamic players of all time. He recorded 39 rushing touchdowns, nine receiving touchdowns, six return touchdowns, and even threw for one touchdown. He suffered a devastating knee injury in his sixth season and retired a year later. Despite the brevity of his career, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977.
#2 - Terrell Davis
Like Sayers, Terrell Davis also got off to one of the best career starts a running back could hope for. He recorded 1,484 scrimmage yards during his rookie season and followed it up with three consecutive first-team All-Pro selections. He also won an NFL MVP award and helped the Denver Broncos win two Super Bowls while being named the MVP in one of them.
Davis is one of only eight running backs in NFL history to exceed 2,000 rushing yards in a single season. The 1998 season would be his final full season before suffering a catastrophic knee injury. He played for just three more years, where he was never the same, before being forced to retire because of the injury.
#3 - Tony Boselli
Tony Boselli is widely accepted as one of the greatest offensive linemen of all time. He played six seasons as the starting left tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars. During his run, he was selected as a first-team All-Pro three times while earning five trips to the Pro Bowl.
Boselli suffered a shoulder injury during his seventh season with the Jaguars, which forced him out for the remainder of the year. He would end up never playing another game after the surgery was reportedly botched, leaving irreparable damage.