For the second consecutive year, Terrell Owens was not voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Unbelievably, the Hall of Fame selection committee, which is comprised of 48 media members, did Owens, and the game of football as a whole, a great disservice yet again.
If you never happened to see T.O. play, he was a veteran of 15 NFL seasons including one with the Buffalo Bills. Here’s all you really need to know about the wide receiver’s career: he ranks second in all-time receiving yards (15,934) and third in all-time receiving touchdowns (153).
Owens should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer inducted as a member of the 2016 class. He should have been a shoo-in this year. If that doesn’t get your blood boiling chew on this: Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News, a Hall of Fame voter, recently revealed that Owens did not survive the first round of cuts this year from 15 to 10 during the nine-hour selection meeting.
His numbers speak for themselves. Nobody is in the same category as Jerry Rice, the greatest of receiver to ever play, but the argument could be made that Owens is the NFL’s next best pass-catcher. At the very least, he probably doesn’t fall below third, behind Randy Moss.
At certain times was T.O. a terrible teammate, an absolute nightmare for head coaches to deal with, a ‘cancer’ on the teams he played for? For sure. Plenty of his former teammates and coaches have echoed those sentiments over the years. This seems to be the factor keeping him out of the Hall.
But those issues shouldn’t keep him out of Canton. There are players who did things far worse than Owens has — they’ve broken laws or used performance enhancing drugs — but astonishingly, they aren’t being judged as harshly as Owens, or being judged at all. The Pro Football Hall of Fame by-laws prohibit voters from considering off-the-field behavior in evaluating candidates, but as Domowitch points out, there’s a loophole: Owens' locker room transgressions are “an extension of the field” according to some voters. Disputes among co-workers — albeit severe and detrimental ones — are just that, they shouldn’t negate what a player has accomplished on the field, especially when more serious ‘sins’ are purposely being omitted.
There has always been much debate over how much weight the number of Super Bowl rings a candidate has, or doesn’t, should factor into their Hall of Fame consideration, as well as the length of one’s career, but what shouldn’t be up for debate is the statistics and records that a player amasses. Football is a team sport in the truest sense of the meaning, but induction into Canton is very much a recognition of a player’s individual accomplishments, and Owens’ career milestones trump all but one current receiver with a bust.
There’s no explanation voters can give that will justify his exclusion. No matter how they try to spin it, it’s a travesty that Owens has not yet officially taken his rightful place among football’s all-time greats.