Terrell Owens versus the Hall of Fame

Terrell Owens on paper is one of the best WR the league has seen. No debating that. The divisive receiver finished 9 of his 15 seasons in the NFL with over 1,000yards receiving. He currently lies 8th of all time in receptions, 2nd in receiving yards, 3rd in touchdowns and attended 6 Pro-Bowls. Statistically one of the greatest of all time.

Normally with stats like the above you would expect the player to walk into the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Not for Owens. Despite being nominated in both 2016 and 2017 he found himself snubbed both times. To explain a little further why a player who is statistically one of the best of all time was snubbed twice I should explain the selection process.

As described by the Hall of Fame:

The Committee consists of one media representative from each pro football city with two from New York, inasmuch as that city has two teams in the National Football League. There are 16 at-large selectors, all of whom are also active members of the media including one representative of the Pro Football Writers of America, and two members of the Hall of Fame.

So the majority of the decision is lead by media representatives. This has caused some controversy as statistically good players can be overlooked for their polarizing personalities or characters. Terrell Owens is one of those. Although recognizing his achievements the excuse that he was a “bad teammate” had kept them from selecting  him. Owens had a tedency to get himself into the spotlight for his antics. Accusations of fighting with teammates, eating popcorn from fans during games, spitting at someone during the game and most notably his touchdown celebrations, such as when he took the Dallas star as a 49er.

Despite these antics there is no denying his ability and justification to be included in the Hall of Fame, at least from the majority of football fans and players. Following his snub last year Owens showed his annoyance and frustration with the following tweet.

With Terrell it was always about when rather than if. Finally the Hall of Fame panel caved and selected him for the 2018 induction. Despite this announcement you would feel Terrell still holds a bit of a grudge towards the Hall of Fame, and personally I find it understandable.

Owens expressed what an honor it was to be selected but decided to not attend the Induction Ceremony in Canton, and rather give his Hall of Fame speech at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he played college ball. Owens opted to give his speech at his former stomping ground to share the experience with his family, friends, teammates and fans in and event open to the public. Some criticized him for this decision saying it was a chance to be the bigger man, but it makes sense he would rather enjoy the weekend with friends, family and fans rather than an organization and committee he’s been feuding with.

The Hall of Fame however did not see it this way. The committee took it as an insult, possibly knowing Owens, how it was meant to be. Committee executive director Joe Horrigan stated Owens will not be mentioned or introduced during the Gold Jacket ceremony and will not be announced during the individual ceremony the following day. His jacket however will be sent to him by mail, how nice of them.

“The focus is on the guys who are here.”
-Joe Horrigan

I ran a poll on our twitter to see what the fans made of the Hall of Fame response. An over-whelming 82% determined the response by the committee as petty. And I agree. Owens will no doubt use this fuel during  his speech which will be one to watch.

With Owens everyone is aware of his character and how it divides opinion. But his ability never did. It was unquestionable, and backed up by performances. Owens has gone by seeing this as a personal snub and now looks at it as part of the bigger picture. One which includes all footballers who deserve to be inducted based off ability but are over-looked for their perceived character or antics.

If the Hall of Fame is really aiming to enshrine exceptional figures in the sport, who have made contributions to the league and wishes to celebrate their excellence, then shouldn’t the person’s body of work outweigh their likability or perceived character?