Here’s how Hall will conduct 2018 induction … without T.O.

Photo courtesy of Talk of Fame Network

No T.O. No problem.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame won’t have Terrell Owens for its 2018 induction ceremony on Aug. 4, and that’s not exactly news. In an unprecedented move, the former wide receiver last month announced he’ll stiff Canton — the first inductee ever to boycott the event — and, forget how that makes him look. It is, as his supporters insist, his right.

But it’s also the right of the Hall of Fame… and its responsibility … to carry on without him. And so it will. Owens will not be introduced for Friday night’s Gold Jacket ceremony, nor will he be announced the following night at Canton’s annual induction ceremony, said the Hall’s executive director, Joe Horrigan.

“The focus,” Horrigan said, “is on the guys who are here.”

And that excludes Owens.

Instead of showing up at Canton, T.O. intends to make his acceptance speech at his alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. And, yes, he will precede the Hall by making it in the afternoon — or hours before the Class of 2018 ceremony in Canton.

But this just in: The Class of 2018 is not about Terrell Owens. It’s about all eight inductees, including former Green Bay star Jerry Kramer, who waited 45 years to reach Canton. And Owens cannot … and will not … spoil or overshadow their party.

The Hall has made sure of that.

But let’s make something clear: This isn’t the Pro Football Hall of Fame being vindictive or punitive. It’s about it being sensible. As Horrigan pointed out, the situation isn’t unlike a senior who decides to boycott his school’s graduation. His name isn’t mentioned, and his diploma isn’t awarded.

Instead, he receives it afterward.

And, so, Owens’ gold jacket — which, under normal circumstances, would be placed on his shoulders at Friday’s Gold Jacket dinner — will be mailed first thing Saturday morning. But his name that evening won’t be mentioned with the others, just at it won’t be recognized 24 hours later when individuals are introduced at Saturday nationally-televised induction.

That doesn’t mean he’ll be absent altogether on Hall-of-Fame weekend. When the entire class is the subject, his name will be included … just as his image will be included on all depictions of the Class of 2018. But that’s it, and for the best of reasons.

“There’s no reason to bring him up as an individual,” said Horrigan. “He’s not here.”


Seven others will be, and if there’s a concern there it’s the usual complaint: Keeping speakers at the 15-minute maximum for acceptance speeches. A year ago, three inductees more than doubled that, each exceeding 3o minutes. In 2016, Brett Favre went 36:17, while the year before Jerome Bettis and Tim Brown each exceeded 30 minutes.

Of course, some of those speeches were the most memorable, too.

The Hall has tried a number of ideas to deter speakers from filibustering, including flashing lights. But that lasted only as long as it took 1996 inductee Dan Deirdorf to unscrew the light bulb and continue talking.

“We’re at the mercy of self-control,” said Horrigan.

Nevertheless, the Hall will make another attempt to curtail run-on speeches by re-emphasizing the 15-minute limit when it holds a conference call with its inductees next week. And while that guarantees nothing, there is reason to believe the night could be shorter.

First of all, there won’t be eight speakers, there will be seven, with Owens absent. Second, former GM Bobby Beathard, the contributor inductee, is expected to make his acceptance speech by video, even though he’ll be in attendance.

Beathard is experiencing the early stages of dementia.

So that leaves six speakers, including former Ravens’ star Ray Lewis, and with one hour already devoted to TV commercials and videos, the event (which begins at 7 p.m. Eastern) could run deep into the night. But that may not be all that bad, according to Horrigan.

“When we went back to the networks,” he said, “we were surprised to find the highest ratings were at the end of the show. And it wasn’t just one year. It was every year.”

So stay tuned. T.O. may not. But millions of others will.

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  1. social media
    July 12, 2018

    Mr Judge and co-writers of your network as well as your fellow voters

    T.O. is clearly doing something else

    I’d like to suggest an individual who is 81yrs old now and will be 82 for your next 2019 Class

    So why wait, let him take T.O. place at the Canton ceremony

    That would be T.F. as in Tom Flores

    Why him?

    *Oldest eligible Raider

    *Oldest most deserving living coach

    Sure you have a group of coaches that cases should be heard,
    *but T.F. isn’t any less deserving
    *and has been eligible longer then any of the other ones

    *Your own website clearly has pointed out several times why T.F. should be inducted

    *Lets not repeat another Snake Stabler situation and induct T.F. while he’s alive

  2. Michael Webb
    July 12, 2018

    I think that the Hall of Fame and Joe Horrigan should just completely eliminate any mention or film of Terrell Owens during the entire weekend. They should not show him in video of the class of 2018 at all. This man is vindictive and selfishly opinionated, Arrogant and Conceited. I have watched him play no doubt a great receiver. But mentally he is self absorbed and no one can say or tell him anything. The Hall of Fame is Historic and a great American tradition for all football fans of every team. This is the only time where fans from all teams come together and applaud football players from every team regardless of their own personal team preference. I hope that Terrell Owens stops getting all this attention and everyone just goes on their way of acknowledging the other seven Great individuals who will be in attendance. Let us start focusing on the good guys.

    • July 12, 2018

      Michael, there will be no mention of him as an individual on HOF weekend. Only will be mentioned when entire class is the subject or when it displays the entire class in a photo. But no mention, no film, not much of anything.

  3. Randy Catley
    July 12, 2018

    Joe Horrigan,

    Congratulations on proving how small and petulant a man can be by totally snubbing Terrell Owens. You could and should have handled this situation with grace and class. Instead you took the low road.

    • Kiser Sosai
      July 15, 2018

      You are either kidding or do not understand “grace or class” just like TO. Go away.

  4. Rod Nelson
    July 12, 2018

    Horribly biased article. Not sure anyone agrees with T.O.’s stance. But to not call out the hypocrisy of the H.O.F. is just asinine.
    They’re being just as petty as he is.

  5. July 12, 2018

    Not even a huge TO fan but this just makes the Hall, Horrigan, and everyone involved with this decision, look immature and classless. I also found the writer of this article to be a bit misguided in their opinions on the responsibility of the hall, and also on his argument in defending the Hall on this matter. This was an immature reaction and actually interferes with the experience the other inductees and the fans should receive. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a drop in ratings as well as a decline in the visitors to Canton. Great job folks.

    • Anonymous
      July 13, 2018

      Totally agree!

  6. 1976 Pitt Panthers
    July 12, 2018

    Terrell Owens created this situation by inexplicably skipping the ceremony, the HOF is taking the right approach. Besides the valid reasons mentioned in the above story, the HOF realizes any further mention of Owens will be understandably booed by the crowd. Removing that possibility is actually taking the high road.

  7. Kayode
    July 12, 2018

    @Randy Catley, you ready mind. I believe the hall should have handled the situation with more grace. The guy has a grudge against the Hall, he’s taking it out as he deems fit, though preposterous. I believe the hall, as a great institution, should have taken the high road and pay tribute to the achievements of the man that day (bar his behavior).
    Well what do I know

  8. Marvin Morris
    July 12, 2018

    The HOF had the chance to be the bigger man and passed.

  9. Akbar Vanterpool
    July 12, 2018

    I’m not a T.O. fan; however, I’d like to know why the man was not elected 1st ballot … he clearly was the best receiver of his era. I’m not defending T.O. but he has a legit gripe here …I’d like to hear the justification from the committee – strictly based upon his performance on the gridiron – as to why he was not initially voted in. In my humble opinion, it would likely be lame and without merit….his numbers and his work ethic per his craft without question qualified him as 1st ballot HOFer. Again, I can’t defend his actions but I can understand how he could distrust the committee and not want to be associated with the ceremonies.

    • bachslunch
      July 14, 2018

      While there’s no doubt Terrell Owens is a deserving HoFer, I think one can reasonably argue that Randy Moss was the best WR of that time.

  10. Lorenzo Meriwether III
    July 13, 2018

    This was very childish and shows how immature the HOF execs are. He doesn’t owe it to anyone to be there is he doesn’t desire to be there. He earned the right to be a HOF’er do he should be honored the same way you would the everyone else there. If he was deceased you blow smoke up everyone’s ass showing how much you fake care. Do the same while he alive. JERKS!!!

  11. Shawn
    July 13, 2018

    The irony of the situation is that if Tom Brady were the one in T.O.’s shoes; Horrigan and writers like Judge would have no qualms with the stance and would probably sing praises for said player voicing his opinion and exercising his right. Let’s be clear the “voting system” for the Hall is flawed and it gives the sportswriters/voters of the world too much power and room to be petty if certain players do not abide by their narratives. At the end of the day, the voting system should be overhauled and placed in the hands of former and current players. Sportswriters should be excluded because many have shown to be unable to check their egos and biases at the door.

    • bachslunch
      July 14, 2018

      Though I disagree with much of this post, my interest lies in responding to only one of the points made. The notion that only current and former players should pick HoFers strikes me as extremely unwise. They’re plenty biased themselves, normally focused on their teammates at the exclusion of everyone else. The old BBHoF Veterans Committee is a perfect illustration of this problem (Frankie Frisch for example was notorious for forcing in a bunch of his unqualified ex-drinking buddies like Highpockets Kelly and Jesse Haines when he ran the committee). The last straw was when great glove but no hit 2B Bill Mazeroski was inexplicably inducted. The approach was disbanded after that, though they still haven’t found an acceptable alternative.

  12. bachslunch
    July 14, 2018

    So it looks like I’ll be one of a few folks who buck the comments trend here. Clark, enjoyed reading this, and agree with your thoughts, which strike me as reasonable and measured, letting the article rely heavily on reporting simple facts.

    On a side note, it’s great that Bobby Beathard is being inducted before he’s full-blown into dementia. He may not be able to give a live acceptance speech, but he at least appears able to comprehend what’s happening. Other inductees haven’t been so lucky.

    • July 18, 2018

      Good to hear from you, as always. Agree on Beathard. I covered him and felt strongly that he was the best candidate among the contributors … and glad others agreed. Very easy case to make. Also agree that the time was right …. that is, while he can appreciate the magnitude of the award. Bobby was a difference maker, and it’s time … or well past time … that he was honored by Hall.

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