In an unprecedented move, wide receiver Terrell Owens on Thursday announced that he will not attend his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this August, saying that he wishes “to celebrate what will be one of the most memorable days of my life elsewhere.”
Excuse me … what?
I thought this was the guy who called out Hall voters for excluding him his first two years of eligibility, terming the process “a total joke.” So now he’s elected in just his third try, and this is his response?
Nope, I don’t know why, either. Maybe it’s a gesture of defiance, with Owens punishing the Hall and the voters he ridiculed … I don’t know. Except he’s not. He’s punishing himself with a puerile act of disrespect that only invites criticism and demands an explanation.
You can’t make this stuff up.
The move not is only the first in Pro Football Hall-of-Fame history, it’s an insult to the Hall and everyone — coaches, players, GMs, owners … everyone … associated with it, and don’t say you’re surprised. Because this is how it goes with T.O. He craves nothing more than attention … always has, always will … and now he has it.
But for all the wrong reasons.
As I said, I don’t know why he’s stiffing Canton, and, frankly, I don’t care. Election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is the NFL’s supreme individual honor, and it should be cherished — and, if you don’t believe me, ask anyone connected to the Pittsburgh Steelers. When Dick LeBeau, then their defensive coordinator, was elected in 2010 after waiting 33 years, the club called off training-camp practices and bussed the entire team to Canton to witness his induction.
When former Cleveland guard Gene Hickerson was enshrined in 2007 as a senior candidate, he showed up in a wheelchair pushed by former teammate Jim Brown. And when Minnesota center Mick Tingelhoff was inducted, he stood at the podium while an emotional Fran Tarkenton spoke for his former teammate, now suffering from dementia.
The point is: Election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a privilege reserved for the very few and the most deserving, and Terrell Owens is deserving of nothing but contempt for a selfish and shameless act that amounts to Odell Beckham getting down on all fours and lifting his leg, a la Fido.
Only in this case, it’s not a fire hydrant that’s the target. It’s the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“We are disappointed but will respect Terrell’s decision not to participate in the Enshrinement,” Hall-of-Fame president and CEO David Baker said in a prepared statement. “While unprecedented, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the nearly 5,000 volunteers and the entire community are committed to celebrating the excellence of the Class of 2018 that will kick off the NFL’s 100th season.”
That’s called taking the high road … or the road less traveled by Terrell Owens.
I’ve already heard his supporters insist that Owens has “every right” to be upset, and, OK, fine. That’s their opinion. But John Mackey didn’t? One of the greatest tight ends in league history and a member of the NFL’s 50th anniversary team, he waited 15 years to be enshrined.
What about Mike Ditka? He’s a tight end on the league’s 75th anniversary team and waited 12 years. Carl Eller was elected in his 20th, John Henry Johnson in his 16th and Jack Youngblood in his 12th. Heck, Jerry Kramer waited 45 years to be enshrined, elected to the Class of 2018 on his 11th try as a finalist, and he was a guard on the league’s 50th anniversary team.
OK, so let’s fast forward to a more modern era. What about Kevin Greene? He wasn’t enshrined until his 12th year of eligibility, yet he’s third on the all-time sacks list, behind only Hall-of-Famers Bruce Smith and Reggie White. Yet he not only showed up; he didn’t complain about the process or belittle voters.
Then there’s former Giants’ linebacker Harry Carson. He was so frustrated with the process he told the Hall to remove his name from the list. Then he was elected in his 13th year of eligibility, and not only showed up but spoke eloquently.
And what about someone like Drew Pearson? He’s a first-team all-decade wide receiver (unlike Owens) who made so many big plays — including “the Hail Mary” — that he was called “Mr. Clutch.” Yet nearly 30 years after he became eligible, he’s never had his candidacy discussed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The point is: Your Mom was right. Good things come to those who wait. And Terrell Owens waited just three years … three freakin’ years … before he was elected. But, apparently, that wasn’t sufficient. So now he decides that somehow, some way, he’s different than all the others who preceded him and will do what nobody else has — namely, boycott his own party.
Well, he’s different, all right, and don’t say you weren’t warned. The Hall should have known something would come up when he failed to show at Super Bowl LII with other members of the Class of 2018, and it did … Wednesday night … when Owens notified the Hall of his decision. Now, of course, it isn’t sure what to do on Induction Day when it’s Owens’ turn to make a speech.
So here’s a suggestion: Run the video of his presenter telling us why Terrell Owens is Hall-of-Fame worthy, along with clips of Owens making all of those magnificent catches. Then stop and read his name. Period. Nothing more. Nothing less. And move on to the next member of the Class of 2018.
If Terrell Owens doesn’t believe the Pro Football Hall of Fame and its voters, employees and members are worthy of his time, he certainly isn’t worthy of theirs.