When Terrell Owens declined the invite to attend his Hall of Fame ceremony this summer, writers took to social media. In addition, fans and media spouted all sorts of nonsense about Owens. In every possible way imaginable, these two groups shamed Owens for refusing to attend the festivities. While no opinion is the same, the venom spewed in Owens’ direction remains mystifying.
The Bad Teammate?
First, did Owens ever fail a drug test, strike a woman, been accused of murder? No. Meanwhile, Hall of Famers stand accused/convicted of those exact issues. Yet, writers and fans seek to paint this horrendous portrait of a man that excelled for fifteen seasons. In those years, Owens only played less than fourteen games just once. In football, other than talent, the best ability remains availability.
Whether Owens made friends in the locker room or with press remains irrelevant. Who cares about rubbing media the wrong way? In addition, show me a completely harmonious locker room and I will show you pure fiction. Does Owens feel remorse? Here, he states some form of contrition.
Second in receiving yards (15934)
Eighth in Receptions (1078)
Third in Receiving TD (153)
5-Time All Pro (First Team)
12 seasons of 60 catches
Granted, for all of Owens’ greatness, many in the media did not enjoy his approach. Skip Bayless banked millions, uttering hot takes about Owens. Meanwhile, Owens remembers the words of all of those writers that wrote scathing columns. With his numbers, no legitimate reasoning exists as to why Terrell Owens needed to wait. From a distance, petty personal beef and a galling lack of objectivity prevented Owens from first-ballot recognition. Parse that any way you will, but some writers exacted whatever small revenge on Owens.
Indeed, you heard the commentator say Terrell Owens was not a consistent contributor to his team’s greatness.
A Longer Wait
While TO will join the immortals in Canton, one name not among the great is Tom Flores. Only twelve other coaches can lay claim to multiple Super Bowls. The former Raiders coach enters his second decade of waiting for the call. Yet, no one appears to know why. First, Flores’ four Super Bowls should grant immediate access. Additionally, how Flores accumulated the titles needs recognition. As a player, assistant, and later, head coach, Flores also blazed a trail for persons of color in football. Yet, here he sits, at age 81, on the outside of those gilded doors.
Weeb Ewbank sports a .502 winning percentage to Flores’ .527. While George Allen’s .712 overshadows Flores, his 2-7 playoff mark, and zero championships do not. In addition, Sid Gillman boasts wins at a .550 clip, but only one playoff victory and one championship. (1963 AFL)
If you look at the list of Hall of Fame Selection Members, many should ring a bell. These writers and journalist appear of podcasts, radio, TV, and every media platform imaginable. Yet, the process remains closed to the public. Ironically, those paid to inform the public regarding the sport, vote on its highest post-career achievement in secret.
A common refrain among the voters is that many wait. Why? Players and coaches do not accrue better numbers after retirement. One of the voters, in a 2017 article, cited that most of the 25 modern receivers waited for induction. The article goes on to cite names like Monk, Reed, Harrison, Carter, and Brown. In all honesty, Owens’ numbers surpassed all of them. Someone else waiting does not make this situation any less peculiar.
In contrast, Berry, Largent, Warfield, and Rice walked in on the first try. Only Rice’s numbers surpass Owens in that group. Plus, the more you dig, the more personal this feels. When national media make crusades against a player based on legal behavior, where is the line?
Currently, the Hall of Fame houses players that have domestic violence arrests, robbery convictions, and liability in wrongful death cases. Yet, a flashy wide receiver and a championship-winning coach cannot gain entry?
In reality, Tom Flores and Terrell Owens may not have much in common except football. Yet, for one to wait almost twenty years and the other to wait at all is a slap in the face to their achievements.