Terrell Owens will receive a gold jacket and bust during the first weekend of August when the Pro Football Hall of Fame inducts its Class of 2018 — but he won’t be on hand to accept them. Owens has decided to skip the induction ceremony and conduct his own ceremony at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, where he played in college.
Owens ranks second all-time in receiving yards (15,934), third in receiving touchdowns (153) and eighth in receptions (1,078). He played for five teams – San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati – and went to the Pro Bowl with three of them (49ers, Eagles and Cowboys). Owens went to five Pro Bowls in all and was voted to the NFL all-decade team for the 2000s. He was elected in his third year of eligibility and becomes the 32nd wide receiver enshrined in Canton.
Here are five of the top moments of Owens’ career:
Super Bowl heroics. Owens never won a Super Bowl in his 15-year career. But you can’t blame him. His team reached only one Super Bowl and Owens shouldn’t have played that night. But he did. He suffered a fractured fibula and a sprained ankle in a December game against the Cowboys in 2004 that forced him out of the final two games of the regular season and the first two games of the playoffs. Even though he was just 49 days removed from a broken leg, Owens promised to play if his Eagles reached the Super Bowl – and he did. Did he ever. Owens caught nine passes for 122 yards to almost single-handedly keep the Eagles in the game in a 24-21 loss to the New England Patriots.
Jerry Rice Day. Dec. 17, 2000 was “Jerry Rice Day” at Candlestick Park, and the gameplan called for San Francisco to throw the ball to Rice early and often in what loomed as the final home game of his brilliant 49ers’ career. But the visiting Chicago Bears were intent on spoiling Rice’s day, doubling him in coverage at every opportunity in an attempt to keep the ball out of his hands. So Jeff Garcia threw the ball to the other side of the field time and time again to Owens, who was enjoying single coverage. Owens set an NFL record with 20 receptions for 283 yards and a touchdown in a 17-0 San Francisco victory. “I wish Jerry could have gone out like this,” Owens told reporters after the game. “This was Jerry’s day, not a day for Terrell to shine.”
Unpacking the Pack. The 49ers posted a 12-4 record to claim one of the NFC wild cards in 1998, which gave them a home game against the Packers. In a shootout between Hall of Fame quarterbacks Brett Favre and Steve Young, the Packers took a late 27-23 lead on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Favre to Antonio Freeman. With eight seconds left, Young hit Owens with a 25-yard game-winning touchdown pass. Owens stepped out from behind the lengthy shadow of Jerry Rice that season, catching 67 passes for 1,097 yards and a team-leading 14 touchdowns – putting him on the track for a Hall of Fame career.
Desecrating the star. In a 2000 game at Texas Stadium, Owens caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Garcia to give the 49ers a 17-3 second quarter lead. Owens then raced to midfield to celebrate on the star logo. When he tried to do it a second time after a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, Cowboys safety George Teague drilled him during mid-preen – and a sellout Texas Stadium crowd exploded with hate. But all was forgiven six years later when Owens joined the Cowboys. And all was forgotten the following season when Owens tied a franchise-record with four touchdown receptions against the Washington Redskins, the franchise’s most bitter rival.
Bullish on Buffalo. Owens played with some great quarterbacks in his career – Hall of Famer Steve Young and Pro Bowlers Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo. But Owens did as much to make his quarterbacks as they did to make him. No better evidence of that came on Nov. 22, 2009 when Owens, now playing for the Buffalo Bills, caught a career-long 98-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick. Yes, Ryan Fitzpatrick. At 35 years of age, Owens became the oldest player in NFL history to post a touchdown reception of 80 yards or more. Owens also caught a 91-yard touchdown pass with the Eagles, a 79-yarder with the 49ers, a 78-yarder with the Bengals (at 36 years of age) and a 75-yarder with the Cowboys.