An insider’s look at how the Hall’s Class of 2016 was decided

Photo courtesy of the Green Bay Packers


By Clark Judge

Talk of Fame Network

SAN FRANCISCO – People in Indianapolis tell you the Colts were the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame’s biggest winners, with two candidates – wide receiver Marvin Harrison and coach Tony Dungy – chosen to the Class of 2016, while Cheeseheads insist it’s the Packers – not Indy – that’s the lead, with quarterback Brett Favre as a first-ballot choice.

Maybe. But don’t sell trying selling either story here. With Eddie DeBartolo and Ken Stabler ticketed for Canton, the Class of 2016 becomes a Bay Area victory.

“I don’t know if anybody could ever write a better script,” said DeBartolo. “It’s just a dream come true.”

DeBartolo and Stabler were among eight inductees named to the Hall-of-Fame’s Class of 2016 – along with tackle Orlando Pace, linebacker Kevin Greene and guard Dick Stanfel — after a nine-hour meeting Saturday of the Hall’s 46 selectors.

Favre was a slam dunk. Greene, Harrison and Pace were expected to make it. Dungy snuck in under the wire, presumably after nosing out Kurt Warner. Senior candidates Stabler and Stanfel were named after missing out in previous tries as finalists, and DeBartolo — the local hero — was elected in his first fourth try as a finalist.

So, question: How did all of this happen? Answer: Keep reading.



(Photo courtesy of the Green Bay Packers)

Let’s hear it for Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. He presented Brett Favre, and he threw away his speech to introduce the three-time MVP – saying simply, “Brett Favre.” Elapsed time. Six seconds. Thanks, Pete.


St. Louis Rams Orlando Pace looks to block against the Philadelphia Eagles during the NFLC Championship game on January 27, 2002 in St. Louis. The Rams won 28-24. (Photo by Bill Stover/St. Louis Rams)
(Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Rams)

When we cornered Hall-of-Famer GM Bill Polian on the Talk of Fame Network two weeks ago, we told him that, next to Favre, we had linebacker Kevin Greene, wide receiver Marvin Harrison and tackle Orlando Pace as the next most likely candidates for induction — with the fifth choice a wild card. He agreed. And so did the board of selectors. Polian also promoted Tony Dungy for the fifth spot, and, in the end, we agreed again. And so did the board. Bottom line: This was one of the easiest fields to predict.



(Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts)

The fifth modern-era candidate. We predicted it would come down to Tony Dungy vs. Kurt Warner, and it did … maybe. In all likelihood, it was Dungy vs. Warner or Dungy vs. Joe Jacoby. A first-time finalist, Jacoby caught a late wave into the Final 10 and was a threat to make it to Canton. But he fell short, and blame it on the process if you’d like. Pace had more support, and putting in two left tackles at once was going to be difficult … if not improbable. There was enormous support for Warner, in only his second year as a candidate, but in the end there wasn’t enough. And maybe it was because of Favre. Choosing two quarterbacks at once was going to be difficult, too, though it last happened in 2006. Warner will make it, but not this year.


Kevin Greene

(Photo courtesy of the Carolina Panthers)

Kevin Greene waited 12 years, including five as a finalist, to cross the finish line. So it was his time … if it wasn’t past time. Greene’s 160 sacks are more than everyone in NFL history than Hall-of-Famers Bruce Smith and Reggie White and 60 more than last year’s inductee, Charles Haley. He had 10 years with double-digit sacks, including seven of his last eight seasons. That’s what’s called consistency, and, finally … mercifully … that production was rewarded.


Don Coryell

(Photo courtesy of the San Diego Chargers)

Don Coryell making it to the Final 10 was stunning. This was the former head coach’s third turn as a finalist, but until Saturday there wasn’t enough support to push him into the last 10. Making it is the good news. But the bad is that he’s still on the outside looking in. There seems to be a feeling that Coryell, who was an innovator, probably won’t make it to Canton until or unless the Hall changes its guidelines and make coaches part of the contributor category. That won’t happen for at least another three years when the contributor category will be revisited.



(Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Eagles)

No surprise here. With Terrell Owens on the ballot, you’re not only asked to bring your popcorn; you’re told to bring your flak jacket, too. There were bound to be grenades lobbed by both sides, and there were. His supporters argue that Owens has Hall-of-Fame numbers, and they’re right. But there’s another number they don’t mention, and it’s one that must have swayed voters. It’s zero. That’s the number of teams that wanted to keep this guy at the top of his career. Yeah, I know, he showed remarkable courage … not to mention ability … with his Super Bowl XXXIX performance for Philadelphia. But by the middle of the following season he’d become so intolerable that the Eagles kicked him to the curb … and what’s new? Over his last six-and-a-half seasons, he played with four teams. “The Hall of Fame ought to be for people who make their teams better,” Polian said on the Talk of Fame Network, “not for those who disrupt them and make them worse.” The board agreed.



(Photo courtesy of the Oakland Raiders)

Ken Stabler was a popular local choice, with plenty of ex-Raiders coming forward in past months to speak on his behalf. Eligible since 1990, he was a finalist three times who was rejected three times. No problem. The Hall’s senior committee brought him back this year after Stabler’s death in early July and made him the 11th Raider from the 1970s to enter Canton. It’s uncertain what persuaded the board this time around, but Stabler’s record of success – stressed by presenter Ron Borges, who two years earlier made the case for senior candidate Ray Guy – had an impact, with Borges comparing Stabler favorably to Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks. Like it or not, his death probably had an impact, too, with the senior committee pushing him to the front of the queue. Stabler’s election overshadows the induction of Dick Stanfel, a former guard who was so good he was named MVP by the Detroit Lions after they won the 1953 league championship. Now think about that for a moment. A club that had seven Hall of Famers on its roster named a guard its best player. That convinced voters, who twice had rejected Stanfel as a senior candidate but changed its minds after Rick Gosselin’s convincing presentation. Sadly, like Stabler, Stanfel also died last summer.



(Photo courtesy of Ed DeBartolo Jr.)

When Eddie DeBartolo stopped by Yahoo Sports Radio the other night to sit with Rick, Ron and me on the Talk of Fame Network, he got a rock-star reception. Escorted by police, he was greeted by dozens of fans chanting his name and asking for autographs. DeBartolo is one of the Bay Area’s most popular figures, the man who took the 49ers out of the gutter and put them on top of the NFL – with the club winning five Super Bowls in 14 seasons. While his candidacy elicited the longest discussion, it didn’t include contentious debate. In fact, if there were a surprise it’s not that he was elected; it’s that there was virtually no debate. Speakers were as eloquent as they were supportive, proof that the room hadn’t forgotten DeBartolo’s impact on the game.


  1. Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. – 50:33
  2. Terrell Owens – 43:15
  3. Kurt Warner – 27:08
  4. Kevin Greene – 27:33
  5. Tony Dungy – 25:57


  1. Brett Favre — :06
  2. Alan Faneca – 8:49
  3. Edgerrin James — 9:55
  4. Steve Atwater – 10:54
  5. Morten Andersen – 11:23


Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos, November 24, 1997

(Photo courtesy of the Denver Broncos)

If you’d been following the Talk of Fame Network, you’d know this went according to form. Losing out were coach  Don Coryell, running back Terrell Davis, tackle Joe Jacoby, safety John Lynch and quarterback Kurt Warner. Warner was the only candidate among this group to make it this far more than once.

  • Coryell’s candidacy went farther than expected. And that’s encouraging to supporters. But it’s going to make it tough … no, damned near impossible … for him to cross the finish line until or unless the Hall puts coaches in a separate category.
  • Davis is an attractive candidate because of his achievements while healthy. He was a two-time Offensive Player of the Year, a two-time Super Bowl champion, a league MVP and a Super Bowl MVP. But he was on top for only three-and-a-half seasons, with a severe knee injury effectively ending his career. The issue with Davis is longevity, and the board was more receptive to his candidacy this time around. It’s the first time he’s cracked the Top 10. One reason: His playoff performances. Davis was an absolute bear in the postseason, with seven 100-yard rushing games in eight appearances. That convinced part of the room. But it didn’t convince enough to push him forward.
  • Tackle Joe Jacoby made a surprising run for a first-time finalist, especially for one that is in his 18th year of eligibility, but it’s about time. The only member of the Washington Redskins’ famed “Hogs” to start four Super Bowls, Jacoby’s place among the final 10 bodes well for him … if not for the next two years, then for his senior candidacy.
  • Safety John Lynch made it to a 10-count for the first time, too, and that’s a big step. A three-time finalist, he’s never been able to make it this far … until now. With safeties Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu on the way in the not-so-distant future, Lynch’s candidacy better get legs fast, or he’s going to fall by the wayside … just like a raft of other pure safeties. You think I’m kidding? The Hall’s last pure safety that played was Kenny Houston, and he retired after the 1980 season.
  • If Dungy wasn’t going to make it as the fifth modern-era candidate, the smart money was on Warner. Like Dungy, he was a top-10 choice last year, and his supporters were out in force Saturday. Only the accountants who tabulate voters know for sure, but my guess is that Warner was a sixth-place finisher … and maybe that’s because of Favre. The board could have been reluctant to put two quarterbacks in at once, though it did it with Troy Aikman and Warren Moon in 2006 and Steve Young and Dan Marino in 2005. Or maybe it was this: There were 13 all-decade players among Saturday’s choices. The two who weren’t? Warner and Lynch.



(Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings)

The cut from 15 to 10 wasn’t easy nor predictable. In the end, kicker Morten Andersen, safety Steve Atwater, guard Alan Faneca, running back Edgerrin James and wide receiver Terrell Owens were eliminated. And here’s why:

  • Andersen is the game’s leading scorer, which should make him Hall-of-Fame worthy. Baseball’s leading run producer, Rickey Henderson, is in Cooperstown. The NBA’s leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is in the Hall of Fame. And so is the NHL’s leading scorer, Wayne Gretzky. But Andersen? Nope. Not yet. A finalist for a second straight year, Andersen can’t break the tape because … well, because he’s a specialist. The Hall’s board isn’t keen on them, even though Andersen was an all-decade choice in the 1980s AND 1990s. In fact, Andersen is one of 22 players to make multiple all-decade teams, with 17 in the Hall. The remaining five? They’re all specialists. Plus,
  • A first-time finalist, Atwater was a dark horse from the beginning – not only because of the position he played but because of whom he played for. That would be the Denver Broncos, who have half as many Hall-of-Famers (4) as Super Bowl appearances. Atwater was a safety, and the last pure safety who made it to Canton was Paul Krause, the league’s career interception leader. That was 1998, and it took Krause 14 years to get there.
  • Faneca is another first-time finalist, and while he’s Hall worthy he’s also a guard. So what? So the Hall isn’t warm to first-time guards. Will Shields is one of the most accomplished guards in recent NFL history, yet he made it to Canton last year in his fourth try as a finalist – and he had three more Pro Bowls than Faneca.
  • James is another first-time finalist who didn’t make the cut, and maybe it was Colts’ fatigue, with voters pushing harder for holdovers Dungy and Harrison. But they preferred Davis, who’s been in the queue longer, making it to the final 10 for the first time in his 10 years of eligibility.
  • Owens didn’t make it because … well, see above.


Among the first-time candidates for next year, former running back LaDainian Tomlinson is an early favorite to go to the head of the class. The league’s single-season touchdown leader, L.T. is the NFL’s fifth-leading rusher – and the only one among the top 10 not in the Hall. Pass rusher Jason Taylor will get support, too, but don’t look for him to be a first-ballot choice. Reason: Kevin Greene has 20.5 more career sacks than Taylor, and it took him 12 years to get in. Others of note: Safety Brian Dawkins, linebacker Joey Porter, tackle Matt Light and quarterback Donovan McNabb.



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  1. […] According to the Dallas Morning News‘ Rick Gosselin, the Hall of Fame voters discussed Favre for six whole seconds, as Green Bay Gazette’s Pete Doughtery apparently presented Favre’s candidacy by simply sayi… […]

  2. Rob
    February 6, 2016

    Clark, what were the times for the finalists who you didn’t list?

  3. Anonymous
    February 7, 2016

    It’s time for Tom Flores to get in!

  4. Rasputin
    February 7, 2016

    Thanks for the inside info. Who’s the early favorite for the next senior nomination? Modern picks were solid this time. I would have chosen a safety but Dungy is a deserving HoFer. Kudos to Detroit representative Rick Gosselin for getting his second old Lion inducted through the senior route in the past few years. I just wish Dallas had a representative so maybe extremely deserving guys like Chuck Howley, Cliff Harris, and Drew Pearson could have a shot.

  5. Jordan
    February 7, 2016

    Uh, false. The 49ers re-signed him to a then-record signing bonus in 1999. He then played the next 4 seasons before attempting to void the remaining years of his contract. He had been on the team 8 years at that point. When his agent missed the deadline for free agency, he requested a trade and was granted one.

    But don’t let facts get in the way of revisionist history and your laughable preconceived notions. Oh, but I forget forget; you talked to an offensive coordinator with a ton of time around the game who had coached Owens within the last 5 years of Owens’s career, right? Only problem is, there was no such guy who fit that description.

    Clearly, this conversation you had with yourself overrides what all of THESE guys say:

    Maybe the next time you and your buddies in Canton are arguing about Owens’s Hall of Fame candidacy, you can discuss THAT.

    Or perhaps the actual facts as to why Owens went from not having a shred of negative sentiment about him in the media to endless negative sentiment and contrived controversy:

    I don’t expect you to read any of that, because you’re in love with your own false perception and confirmation bias. But just in case you’re interested in, you know, being fair. Maybe the fact that I’ve researched the Owens media case more than anybody else on the face of the earth carries some weight.

    • February 7, 2016

      Thanks for the comment. Don’t agree. Unlike you, covered the guy and was around him, teammates and coaches. Lots of them. Talk to them all the time. But don’t expect you to understand, either. There’s another side to this story, even if you don’t want to hear it.

      • Anonymous
        February 10, 2016

        So what’s the other side Clark? Your response is pretty lame, not to mention that it sounds like a 10 year old’s argument. But then again you are a member of the scum sucking media so what should I expect .

        • February 11, 2016

          I know what I expect: To know whom I’m responding to when I get something like this. I don’t care what you write, but have the courtesy … or the courage … to attach your name to it.

        • Rasputin
          February 11, 2016

          Hey, whether you agree with him or not at least Clark is willing to engage fans in discussion here, unlike certain other media members, which I appreciate. Show the man some respect.

          • February 12, 2016

            Appreciate the comment, and, as I said, I understand the other side. I just don’t embrace it. People have varying points of view. I get that. And when you reach a point when you realize both sides are intractable you just agree to disagree. Simple as that. Thanks for the note.

  6. […] it into the group of actual inductees yet again. But he did get farther than he usually does, and Hall of Fame voter Clark Judge explains what went on inside the room and how his chances look going […]

  7. Jordan
    February 8, 2016

    You’ve already attempted to tell the “other side of the story.” Many times. And you’ve revealed you don’t actually know much about what you’re talking about. Aside from your supposed offensive coordinator who had been around the game forever who was with Owens from within his last 5 years in the NFL (a set of conditions which did not exist, as I checked against each coach on each coaching staff he played for; you made an error in your description somewhere, because none of them were NFL offensive coordinators at the time of your article), you have said nothing other than repeating things you read from other media. And these other things were rife with inaccuracies/editorializing.

    Your narrative simply isn’t true. Each thing you have said can easily be debunked. You’re only interested in painting a broad generalization to fit this sensational anti-Owens narrative, completely ignoring the details and nuances and mitigating circumstances. That’s not being objective.

    For instance, you said in an article a few years ago that Owens was traded by the 49ers for a 5th round pick and Brandon Whiting. You neglected to mention that Owens was originally traded to Baltimore for a 2nd round pick and the trade outcome you referenced was actually the settlement so as to avoid the risk of each party losing during the grievance hearing Owens and his agent had filed. In other words, each party lost leverage as a result.

    You also neglected to mention that Owens had filed for free agency but his agent missed the deadline, leading to Owens himself requesting a trade. And you neglected to mention that the 49ers were rebuilding after the 2003 season, which included releasing one Jeff Garcia, along with Garrison Hearst, Ron Stone, and Derrick Deese, plus letting Tai Streets and Jed Weaver leave via free agency uncontested, in the same off-season. It wouldn’t have mattered if Owens had Calvin Johnson’s reputation, he was leaving San Francisco one way or another.

    The other fact is that the few conflicts he did actually have were deliberately created by the media through false paraphrasing and feeding said false paraphrases to the target. This is easily verifiable if you actually look back through the archives, as I have done (and documented). There’s a reason every single one of his conflicts took place publicly, in the media. It’s because the media deliberately targeted Owens for controversy as the fallout from his celebrations in Dallas in 2000, which at the time were deemed the most heinous thing any player had done. You and all the others forget that. You forget that’s how it all started and don’t consider the possibility that it resulted in a media snowball.

    And the reality is, those who got dragged into the media agenda often weren’t smart enough to figure it out (Tony Romo is the exception). So you can talk to Donovan McNabb or Jeff Garcia all you want, but between them you’ve got a guy who had his father call into a Bay Area radio show to defend his son from criticism and a man who referred to himself as “the most unfairly criticized quarterback in NFL history.” That’s how the two of them handle the media. Is it any wonder they’d fall victim to this? If Roger Federer hadn’t called reporters on this, he’d be in a feud with Bernard Tomic right now.

    And one final thought, since you seem to love painting with broad strokes:

    Terrell Owens’s career regular season record prior to joining the Bills in 2009:


    Must have been doing an awful lot of hurting the team. Obviously, his performance couldn’t have been helping those teams win games.

    • February 8, 2016

      Ah, Jordan, careful. The offensive coordinator in question is still in the game. Trust me. You can look it up. Second, there’s no use debating this. You’re entitled to your opinion. I’m entitled to mine. All I know is if so many teams didn’t want him why should the Hall? Apparently, there are plenty of others inside that room who share the same opinion.

  8. […] The 46 selectors took 25:57 to debate Dungy, the fifth longest time among the 15 finalists (Edgerrin James was the third shortest debated, at just 9:55). […]

  9. […] An insider’s look at how the Hall’s Class of 2016 was decidedBrett Favre, Kevin Greene, Ken Stabler, Eddie DeBartolo, Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace and Dick Stanfel were named to the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016. But you knew that. So how did it happen? We have it here. […]

  10. Jordan
    February 8, 2016

    Virtually every coach Owens ever had is still in the game in some capacity. The point is, the description you gave did not match anyone who was an offensive coordinator at that time (2011). The closest was a quarterback coach who had just been fired from his long-time position as offensive coordinator. Maybe it’s just me, but I sense some potential bias there.

    And I know which coaches you WEREN’T talking to. George Stewart (who spent more time around him than any coach he’s ever had), Ray Sherman, Larry Kirksey, David Culley, Andy Reid. You don’t care about them, though, because you’re not objective.

    • February 9, 2016

      Actually, you have no idea who I or anyone else talked to but don’t let the truth stand in the way of a good rant.

  11. Jordan
    February 8, 2016

    Oh, and teams most certainly did want him.

    The 49ers wanted him so badly they gave him a record signing bonus in 1999 to sign him to a 7 year contract (5 of the years he ended up playing before attempting to void his contract and then asking for a trade).

    The Eagles wanted him so badly they were willing to let him stay on the team if he’d just apologized to Donovan McNabb for offending him in the interview with Graham Bensinger. Despite the biggest media onslaught ever seen in professional sports. He was deactivated because he refused to apologize. You never tell that part of it.

    The Cowboys wanted him so badly they picked up his option for the 2007 season despite the media’s every attempt to create chaos. They insisted there was no chance Owens was coming back because “he was causing so much chaos.” Then the Cowboys brought him back and the narrative was revised to, “he was well-behaved in his first season, but don’t worry, the blowup is coming. He’s always well-behaved in his first year. It’s his second year when he blows up.”

    And then that didn’t happen, he had a 1st team All-Pro year with 1355 yards and 15 TDs, they won 13 games, and Jones wanted him so badly he gave him a contract extension in the off-season.

    By the time Dallas got rid of him, he was 35. 99% of NFL receivers are on their way out of the game at that point.

    The problem is, that “room” is the likes of you and Jason Cole getting up and making these asinine arguments, and other journalists who don’t know much about it are swayed by these broad claims of the intangible.

    • Rasputin
      February 9, 2016

      I’m guessing the offensive coordinator Clark talked to may have been Jason Garrett, who reportedly put his foot down and demanded that Jerry Jones cut Owens as a condition for him staying, let alone becoming head coach. While sort of behind the scenes, it was one of those moves that gave Garrett some credibility among fans, showing he had backbone and wouldn’t just be a puppet. On balance I think both Jordan and Clark make fair points. I was annoyed by the media’s parasitic behavior in scandal mongering around Owens, ginning up a lot of non stories into sensationalistic headlines. But it’s not like there was never any fire there. We are talking about a guy who was cut by an IFL team he partially owned because they got sick of him refusing to play road games and he skipped a charity event at a hospital.
      TO will and should be inducted at some point, but this aspect of the story is legitimate enough to keep him out of first ballot status.

      • February 9, 2016

        He didn’t deserve first ballot status. First ballot guys don’t get let go 5 times.

    • February 9, 2016

      All true but each of those teams also wanted to get rid of him at the height of his skills…and they did. Andy Reid in Phila. didn’t even care that he was going to a divisional rival. Not sure who “you” is but nearly every coach I spoke to about him, including a number who coached him, said they never wanted to see him again. You can stay blind to the importance of a teammate if you want but we can’t. It’s part of the process, as are his statistics. I’m sure he will get in at some point and have no problem with that. But to say he has no warts is simply silly and untrue. To say teams “wanted him” when those same teams also dumped him is a half truth.

  12. Bobby
    February 9, 2016

    Thanks for the breakdown of what went on in the room Clark. You don’t know how much I appreciate it. I think the Hall of Fame is going to have an issue with the Patriots dynasty in a few years because unlike previous dynasties I don’t think there will be that support. While Belichick, Brady & Vinatieri seem to be locks I feel that they need more representation than two players. As you said in your article there are other dynasties that have many more. I’d like to get your opinion but I think Law, Seymour, McGinest, Harrison, Vrabel, Bruschi & Brown should get a good look as well as a few others. If the voters want to keep out T.O. because he was a bad teammate wouldn’t being a great player and teammate of a championship defense be enough to get someone like Tedy Bruschi in who was the heart and soul of the defenses that won three Super Bowls while playing in five overall?

    • February 9, 2016

      Bobby, thanks for writing. The greatness of Brady is reflected by the Hall of Famers around him. There aren’t any. Vinatieri will get in. Moss probably will, but he spent just three years there. Law should qualify. But Seymour, McGinest, Harrison, Vrabel, Bruschi and Brown are on the outside looking in. All in Hall of Very Good. And of that group there’s probably more sentiment for Harrison for Canton but not enough to cross the finish line. Good players are expected to be good teammates. It’s when they’re not that we stand up and notice. Question is good one, but just don’t see anything happening outside of the three (B&B and Vinatieri) you mentioned. Thanks again for asking.

    • February 9, 2016

      I agree with both your position on the Patriots and your fears. A disservice was done to the players when that dynasty was at its peak by so many writing and saying their success was about the coach and not the players. It’s always about the players. They didn’t get the credit they deserved at the time and I fear those chickens will come home to roost. Certainly Ty Law and Richard Seymour are HOF. You can make strong cases for several others you mention. But the narrative of the time was it was all coaching up guys like Earthwind Morland as if they had no real players. We’ll see how it goes.

  13. Jordan
    February 9, 2016

    Ron Borges: Uh, and you have exactly WHAT to do with this? I know exactly who Clark could have talked to based on his description. I went through all the offensive coordinators in 2011 and checked which teams they’d coached for. Either Clark was talking about an offensive coordinator who was no longer an offensive coordinator at the time he wrote it (hence making his claim that he was talking to a “current” NFL offensive coordinator a mistake), or he was talking about one of two men who had been _quarterback coaches_ on teams Owens was on (and for a single season); in other words, guys who never would have actually worked with him.

    By the way, Jerry Rice was “let go of” 4 times. Based on your definition of “let go of.” Same with Brett Favre.

    Rasputin: Jason Garrett was not an offensive coordinator in 2011. He was a head coach. It would have been disrespectful (and inconceivable) for Clark to refer to a head coach as an offensive coordinator. The IFL story is bogus – they let him go right before the end of the season because they didn’t want to pay him his 30% ownership revenue (part of his contract was he was part owner). It was about money. After the “missed hospital visit,” he played the next 3 games. And he was not contractually obligated to play in road games. He willingly played road games when he was financially compensated for them, which is completely fair and reasonable. It would be outrageous to expect him to play for free. So they released him with 3 games to go – 2 road games he wasn’t going to play in, and the season finale, which, if he had played, meant they would’ve had to pay him his ownership cut.

    When the Cowboys released Owens – as it is with any players – they sent him a form that included the reason for his release. There are different boxes they can check, some of which include “conduct” and “off-field conduct.” You know which box was checked in this case? “Performance.” Owens mentioned this himself in an interview, and he is outraged by this, saying that that can’t be the reason…but the reality is, just a year later, Chan Gailey publicly stated that the reason the Bills didn’t bring him back was that after watching the film, he thought Owens had “hit a wall.”

    This stuff doesn’t fit the sports media’s sensationalist narrative, though. They’d rather paint everything with broad strokes and make simplistic arguments.

  14. Rasputin
    February 9, 2016

    I’m not sure what the original comment by Clark is that you’re referring to, but if he specifically said an offensive coordinator told him this in 2011 it still could have been Garrett, whether it happened in early January 2011 before he was named the permanent head coach or even after, as Garrett was still the offensive coordinator too until 2012, and of course had been the offensive coordinator throughout his time coaching Owens.
    As a Cowboys fan who followed those events closely all the local reports were that behind the scenes Owens was poisoning the locker room, not through maliciousness so much as failing to recognize the responsibilities of his leadership role and using his charisma to influence other players into behaviors that weren’t conducive to winning.
    I wouldn’t put much stock in an official reason for release card, but Owens did also have those league leading drops, which is a big reason I opposed him getting first ballot status.
    As for the IFL team cutting him, I know his contract didn’t require him to play road games. That was covered in the story I linked to. Is that how you’re defending him? By saying his contract didn’t technically mandate he play in those games, so there was nothing wrong with him staying home and kicking his feet up when his team traveled and fought through games that were critical to their playoff chances? Holy crap. My educated guess is that the situation where he was doing the absolute minimum he could get away with, including by insisting on such ridiculous provisions in the first place, increasingly grated on the team, fans, and management.

  15. Jordan
    February 9, 2016

    It would be disrespectful to call Garrett an “offensive coordinator” when he was the head coach (as he had been named after they fired Wade Phillips in 2010). He could have just called him a “coach” and left it at that, but he specified that it was a “current offensive coordinator.” The article was in June of 2011.

    Here it is:,139868,139868

    Also note that whoever this is suspiciously had an awful lot to say about his performance in Cincinnati. I don’t imagine Garrett was wasting his time watching Bengals games in 2010, and if he was, that’s quite an unhealthy obsession with Owens.

    You always have to ask yourself, what does a person gain by talking “off the record” to some writer? Usually, it’s the ability to anonymously bash someone and not be held accountable for it. This is the kind of thing you might find in, I dunno, a former offensive coordinator who lost a job he’d had for 10 seasons that he thought he’d have forever because of his well known friendship with the team’s owner? And so he not only trashes a player who after the season had ended publicly seemed to allude to him not doing a good enough job of using the offensive talent, but throws the head coach he worked for under the bus as well (behind his back) by implying to Clark that this head coach wasn’t “strong.” A much-maligned former offensive coordinator who resented having to accept a quarterback coach job after all those years and looking to play the blame game.

    Just a thought. Maybe I’m wrong about who it was, but the fact is, not all coaches’ opinions carry the same weight.

    And are you seriously suggesting Owens should have played for FREE? Um, this isn’t a college kid doing a summer internship. This was a 15 year professional playing professional football. Owens played road games when he was compensated for them. When he wasn’t, he didn’t. That’s completely fair.

    • Rasputin
      February 9, 2016

      No, I’m saying he shouldn’t have insisted on only playing certain games when he joined the team. That goes against everything most football players, fans, and coaches stand for at every level. That and the attitude that generated it is not conducive to a winning team chemistry.

  16. Jordan
    February 10, 2016

    Who says he insisted? They negotiated the terms of the contract and agreed to them. If the Wranglers wanted him to play all the games, it was their responsibility to put that in the contract.

    If I hire you to paint my kitchen and we agree on a price, and then while you’re painting, I ask if you could also paint my living room for free, are you going to do it?

    It wasn’t that he wouldn’t play any road games, it was that he would only play road games in which he was financially compensated to play them. He did end up playing in 1 or 2 road games (I believe the opposing teams covered the expenses).

    • Rasputin
      February 10, 2016

      Wow. Yep, that’s a Knute Rockne speech right there. Maybe teams got fed up with Owens because he treated football like painting the kitchen.

      Oh, and I seriously doubt the team didn’t want him to play all the games.

  17. Jordan
    February 10, 2016

    If they wanted him to play all the games then they should have negotiated a fair contract for him playing all the games. Owens obviously didn’t demand not to be required to road games, because he agreed to play any road games in which he was financially compensated. Clearly, the Wranglers decided it would be a good enough investment just to have him playing home games.

    You are out of your frickin’ mind if you think Owens is to blame for not being willing to play for FREE.

  18. Jordan
    February 10, 2016

    And you talked about the whole “team” thing, but the Allen Wranglers were a revolving door of people. This wasn’t like a professional or even collegiate team. Players and coaches came and went. The first head coach was fired at some point, yet they made the “playoffs.”

    It was basically like a rec league that paid people who got involved.

    • Rasputin
      February 10, 2016

      And yet they cut Owens. I didn’t say “free”, but he obviously demanded such a ridiculously high price (way more than “fair”) that they couldn’t afford to have him play all the games. I doubt the other players on the team only played certain games. They finally decided he wasn’t worth keeping for the games he would play in.

  19. Jordan
    February 11, 2016

    Yes, because when they cut him, that meant they no longer had to pay him his 30% ownership share he would’ve been owed if they had kept him to the end of the season.

    They cut him with 3 games to go – 2 road games, which he wasn’t going to play in – and the season finale, which was at home, but if he’d played that game, he would’ve been owed 30% of the team’s profit.

    And other players on the team DID only play certain games. I tried watching a few games and it was unbearable. I remember Casey Printers making his debut at one point, and that was a big deal in that league.

  20. Rasputin
    February 11, 2016

    In other words Owens had a financial stake in all those games after all, since as part owner it was in his interest for the team to make the playoffs and do well to draw more fans in, but he still preferred not to play. Most football players don’t play every game, but usually it’s the coaching staff that determines that. I doubt many other players on the team pick and chose the games they’d play in.

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  22. Jordan
    February 14, 2016

    Again, they presented the offer and he accepted it. He played road games in which he was financially compensated. He didn’t play games for free. I don’t know how you are still arguing that there’s something wrong with him not playing for free. They were lucky he even agreed to play in a league that was beneath him in the first place.

    • Rasputin
      February 23, 2016

      And then the minor league football team cut him, so apparently they disagreed. Heck, listen to your own rhetoric. “Beneath him”, lol? You sound like you share TO’s toxic attitude, which was the biggest problem with his career. Football is a team sport, not a diva showcase for individuals.

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