The list of 15 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists was announced this week, and only one former Buffalo Bills player made the list: wide receiver Terrell Owens. One step remains for the finalists, where they will be debated and pared down Super Bowl weekend to reach the final five-man, modern era class to be inducted this August.
Brett Favre tops the list as a sure-fire first-ballot inductee, and joins Owens as a candidate eligible for the first time (guard Alan Faneca is a first-year candidate, as well). The list of returning finalists include kicker Morten Andersen, safety Steve Atwater, coach Don Coryell, running back Terrell Davis, coach Tony Dungy, linebacker Kevin Greene, receiver Marvin Harrison, tackle Joe Jacoby, running back Edgerrin James, safety John Lynch, tackle Orlando Pace, and quarterback Kurt Warner. Senior committee candidates Kenny Stabler and Dick Stanfel, as well as contributor candidate Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. will also be considered for enshrinement in separate votes.
Owens was a member of the Bills for only one season, but holds the record for longest reception in team history. Ryan Fitzpatrick connected with a 36-year old T.O. from his own end zone on a 98-yard catch and run, shown below. In that lone season, Owens caught 55 passes (the lowest number for a season where he played more than seven games) for 829 yards and five touchdowns, chipping in another score on the ground.
While Owens' career numbers clearly place him in the Hall of Fame, his candidacy is complicated by his enigmatic behavior and difficult relationships with coaches and teammates. He will likely be elected at some point, as the Hall of Fame committee has generally stuck to their "on the field" approach to a candidate's credentials.
If Owens is elected, the Bills will have representatives enshrined in three consecutive years following Andre Reed (2014) and Bill Polian (2015). Unlike in Major League Baseball, a player doesn't go in as a member of a specific team. In the Pro Football Hall of Fame, individuals are recognized for their entire on-field career.