Let’s face it, it’s well past time that Terrell Owens was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He has was first eligible to join the Hall’s Class of 2016. And by all accounts, no matter how you measure his worthiness of the game’s biggest and most prestigious honor, he should have been voted in as a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Over the past two years, we’ve watched as Owens expressed his disappointment at not being granted his vaunted bronze bust among the very best to ever play the game.
Set aside the fact that he was a prima donna, or that he never had much impulse control when it came to running his mouth and criticizing his teammates or coaches. Owens’ body of work easily places him among the five best wide receivers to ever play the game. His totals compare to those of Randy Moss and Jerry Rice, widely recognized as the two greatest pass catchers ever.
When the popcorn was ready, so was Terrell Owens.
Former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens announced on Thursday he declined to attend the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony in Canton, Ohio. Owens publicly tweeted out his official statement via Twitter. Sincerely, #81 Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker released a statement following the announcement, via Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith.
In his prime, he was too big to put a speedy coverage corner on and too fast to assign a safety. Owens ranks eighth all-time in receptions and fifth all-time in total touchdowns. He trails only Jerry Rice in total receiving yards with 15,934.
As is often the case with prideful individuals with well-worn axes to grind, T.O. recalled all of the negative things that were said about him in the media when he was snubbed by the Hall o Fame in 2016 and 2017. Predictably, he balked at the idea of standing before individuals who really didn’t want him there in the first place.
Instead, Owens planned on sending a pre-taped speech recorded at his alma mater, the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
“After giving it much thought I have realized just how much I want to celebrate what will inevitably be the best weekend of my life at a place that means so much to me,” Owens wrote in a message posted to Twitter.
“I’m proud to be a Moc, and I’m honored to share this experience with my family, friends, teammates and fans at the place that provided me with an opportunity beyond high school and where I truly began to find myself as an athlete. Thank you to everyone who has supported my celebration decision. I look forward to seeing you all in Chattanooga. Getcha popcorn ready!”
After watching him play over the course of a 15-year career, it’s easy to see how he would somehow place his own personal stamp on the festivities.
However, the institution in Canton, Ohio has the type of permanence and mystique that looms much larger than anyone who has ever played the game. This is why the Hall of Fame’s decision to completely ignore and omit Owens from their induction ceremonies is perplexing.
Owens is the diva, Owens is the malcontent, Owens is the showman, Owens is emotional. However, it appears as if the Hall of Fame is in an emotional entanglement with him on this. And it’s totally unnecessary.
They’re supposed to be the “adult” in this situation. They’re supposed to be the “dignified ones”. It’s what’s expected of them or any other entity that wishes to be considered an institution instead of an infantile Boys’ Club.
Terrell Owens vs. Randy Moss. We compare the careers of these two phenomenal talents at the wide receiver position.
Pro Football Hall of Fame Executive Director Joe Horrigan recently said that Owens will not be introduced for the Gold Jacket ceremony, nor will he be announced at the Hall’s annual induction ceremony.
“The focus,” Horrigan said, “is on the guys who are here.”
He said that as if their focus is some sort of finite resource that is so rigid that it shatters if spread too thin.
Understood, no Owens also means there isn’t going to be anyone there to present him with his well-deserved bronze bust, and no acceptance speech. So, any acknowledgement of his induction would be fleeting and thin relative to the emotional acceptance of the other greats inducted. But doing so would place the Hall in the position of being adult and professional.
The Hall of Fame will mail Owens his gold jacket the morning after the rest of the Class of 2018 receives theirs. He will still appear on materials featuring the entire Hall of Fame class, but “There’s no reason to bring him up as an individual,” Horrigan said. “He’s not here.”
In addition to Owens, the 2018 class includes Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher, Brian Dawkins, Bobby Beathard, Jerry Kramer, and Robert Brazile.