Best WR not in Canton? It’s T.O.

Terrell Owens photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers


(Terrell Owens photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers)
(Drew Pearson photo courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys)

Talk of Fame Network

Terrell Owens said he felt more disrespected than disappointed when he was passed over for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Afterall, Owens ranks second all-time in receiving yards, third in touchdown receptions and sixth in receptions. Owens played 16 seasons with five teams and went to six Pro Bowls. And he has his share of supporters.

In last week’s Talk of Fame Network poll, we asked our listeners and readers to identify the best wide receiver not in the Hall of Fame. Owens won in a close vote over another former Cowboys’ wide receiver, Drew Pearson. Owens received 33 percent of the vote and Pearson 31 percent.

Otis Taylor, Isaac Bruce, Stanley Morgan and Billy Wilson finished in that order, well back of Owens and Pearson.

There were 22 position players selected to the first-team NFL all-decade team of the 1970s, and Pearson is one of only two not yet enshrined in Canton. The other is his former Cowboys’ teammate safety Cliff Harris. Pearson played for 11 seasons and won an NFC pass receiving title in 1976.He averaged 16.0 yards per his 489 career receptions with 48 touchdowns.

Owens, an all-decade pick for the 2000s, caught 1,078 passes for 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns. Only Jerry Rice gained more yards (22,895) catching the football than Owens – and Rice was a first-ballot Hall-of-Fame selection. Only Rice (197) and Randy Moss (156) caught more touchdown passes than Owens.

Moss is not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame.

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  1. Rasputin
    March 3, 2016

    Drew Pearson is the most deserving senior era WR not in. He also led the NFC in yards in 1974 and the NFL in yards in 1977. He topped 1,000 yards twice in the 1970s, which was rare, that being the only decade in NFL history to see passing stat deflation rather than inflation. For example HoFers Charlie Taylor, Lynn Swann, Paul Warfield, and Fred Biletnikoff never topped 1,000 yards in the 1970s. John Stallworth did it once. Cliff Branch and Charlie Joiner each did it twice that decade, tying Pearson. In 1979 Pearson and teammate Tony Hill also became the first WR tandem in NFC history to both top 1000 yards in a season, and the first in NFL history (alongside the Chargers that same year) excluding a couple of late 1960s AFL teams when the merger was still a work in progress.

  2. bachslunch
    March 3, 2016

    Terrell Owens is probably the best regularly eligible WR not in, followed not far behind in no particular order by Sterling Sharpe, Henry Ellard, Isaac Bruce, and Torry Holt. For Seniors, there are eight especially deserving options: Billy Howton, Mac Speedie, Billy Wilson, Del Shofner, Harold Jackson, Cliff Branch, Drew Pearson, and Harold Carmichael; expand a bit further, and folks like Art Powell, Lionel Taylor, Gary Collins, and Otis Taylor could enter the mix.

  3. Rasputin
    March 3, 2016

    As for modern era WRs I’d still make the case for Sterling Sharpe. In 1992 he led the league with 1,462 yards, a higher total than Owens ever produced, despite Terrell playing in a more stat inflated era. In his seven year career Sharpe led the NFL in triple crown metrics (yards, receptions, or TDs) 6 times, showing dominance in all three categories. In his 15 year career Owens only led in those metrics 3 times, and all those in TDs. Owens never led the league in yards or receptions. In fact Owens only reached 100 receptions once (posting an even 100 in 2002). Sharpe led the league in receptions three of his seven years, setting the NFL record with 108 in 1992 and breaking his own record with 112 in 1993. In 1992 Sharpe posted a true seasonal triple crown, leading the NFL in all three categories, becoming only the second guy since 1970 to do so (the first was Jerry Rice). Sharpe never won a Super Bowl, but neither did Owens, and Owens had way more opportunity to. Sharpe played for a mediocre Green Bay team largely propped up by himself. He spent most of his career catching passes from guys like Don Majkowski, Mike Tomczak, and a rookie Brett Favre. Owens spent his career catching passes from guys like Steve Young, Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb, Drew Bledsoe, Tony Romo, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Carson Palmer. Because of injury Sterling Sharpe’s career was shortened. Longevity is a factor in HoF selection but it and career volume totals shouldn’t be the ONLY factor. Sharpe played long enough to surpass the Gale Sayers’ Mendoza line for longevity (5 real, elite seasons; all 7 of Sharpe’s were high level, and five them Pro Bowl years), and he was one of the greatest WRs of all time. The shortened career legitimately cost him first ballot status but he’s waited long enough.

  4. Rasputin
    March 4, 2016

    Ha Ha, didn’t see bachslunch’s post until long after I posted my last one. I’m glad I’m not the only one here ranking Sterling Sharpe high.

  5. Rob
    March 9, 2016

    Rick, Ron and Clark, Do you guys agree with the Voters that TO is the Best WR not in Canton?

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