Terrell Davis with some Hall-of-Fame advice for T.O.

Nobody was more surprised that former Denver running back Terrell Davis was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame than … well, than former Denver running back Terrell Davis. In fact, on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast he said he was so convinced he wouldn’t make it this year that, before votes were counted, he had his wife prepare a tweet congratulating the Class of 2017 and expressing his hope for the future.

As we know now, she never got a chance to send it.

That’s because Davis was one of five modern-era inductees, chosen in his 10th year of eligibility and his third consecutive try as a finalist. Nevertheless, his election was so unexpected — with longevity the knock on his career — that Davis admitted he was beginning to lose hope he would ever wind up in Canton.

Except he did.

So it’s only fitting that we asked him to offer advice to others who failed to reach the Hall, including wide receiver Terrell Owens. There were seven all-decade finalists who did not make this year’s final cut, but it was Owens who drew the most attention … largely because he made the biggest noise, with the former wide receiver calling the process “a total joke” and his supporters demanding a change in voters, the process or both.

What they fail to recognize, however, is that waiting is part of the process for all but the very few. Like Owens, guard Alan Faneca didn’t make the cut to 10, and he was a nine-time Pro Bowler and eight-time All-Pro. Unlike Owens, he was a first-team all-decade choice.

Owens was second-team all-decade.

Center Kevin Mawae was an eight-time Pro Bowler and nine-time All-Pro. He, too, was first-team all-decade. And while he made the cut to 10, his candidacy stalled there. Safety Brian Dawkins reached the final 10, too, but went no farther. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, six-time All-Pro and, yes, first-team all-decade selection.

“The process is interesting,” said Davis. “It’s difficult because you only have five slots per year. And so it’s difficult to say: ‘How do you cram all these players that are deserving to be in the Hall of Fame into that small slot?’

“Tim Brown told me a couple years ago when he was going through it … he just said, ‘Man, Bubba, just be patient, be patient.’ And so I have been. I’ve been patient sort of waiting and understanding the process. And I think that’s part of it.”

Tim Brown waited six years before he was voted into Canton. So did Cris Carter. Andre Reed waited eight. And Bob Hayes, who changed the game at the wide-receiver position, waited 29 before he was admitted as a senior candidate.

Terrell Owens has been eligible two.

“He feels like he probably should have been in there in Year One,” said Davis, “and he will be in there … and that’s the thing about it. He will become a Hall of Famer.  It’s just a matter of when. And so I say the same thing to him: Man, you’ve just got to be patient.

“And the other thing is: You can’t control what happens in that room at this point. The work is done, and you’re basically at the mercy of you guys, and you’re the voters. And I’m not sure how much the relationship part of it works in this. I don’t know that for sure.

“But, I don’t know, I’d just tell him at this point, ‘There’s nothing you can do about it, man. Just be patient, and, hopefully, it happens next year for you.’ “

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  1. Martin Sexton
    February 19, 2017

    I agree with Terrell Davis. Absolutely nothing TO can do at this point. However, just playing “devil’s advocate” for a minute, I wouldn’t be surprised that people are thinking, “It is easier to say what person should do, when you have already made it.” Both TD and Dan Fouts think that TO will eventually get there but he needs to be patient and stop criticizing the process. They are both IN the HOF so it is much easier to say what someone else should do. I play guitar. It is easy for me to say how easy it is because I already know how to do it. For someone else, maybe not so much. That being said, the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” concept is not going to work here. Human nature would tell you that the voters are not going to cave in because TO is being louder than the rest of the class. So as TD says, being patient is all he CAN do. “Patience is a virtue!” No one has said the same about whining.

    • February 19, 2017

      Faneca, Mawae and Dawkins haven’t said anything, yet they are as qualified … if not more so. Each was first-team all-decade; Owens was not. Owens has a sense of entitlement that is alarming. There are plenty of other WRs as qualified … if not more so … that are waiting on Canton, and I wrote about them last week. Do you hear about them? No, and maybe we should. Asking Owens to be patient is a little like asking Yankees fans to be kind to the Red Sox. Ain’t going to happen.

  2. February 19, 2017

    Yep , Atwater has been waiting 12 yrs , He has been leapfrogged by Lynch and Dawkins for no reason , NEITHER is more deserving of the HOF , He was Defensive Rookie of the year , 1st Team All Decade Player , 8 Pro Bowls in 11 seasons , Made possibly the most important play in SB 32 w/ the Strip Sack on Favre. Probably the most historic win by a AFC team since SB 3 , since they had lost 13 consecutive SB’s coming into SB 32. 1 of the 2 most feared players of his generation. He should already be in the HOF , But the HOF committee has not deemed any Bronco defensive player that has ever played – HOF WORTHY , Not one Bronco defensive player in the HOF , Even though they have been to 8 SB’s – what a travesty , Anyone with half a brain knows the HOF is not FAIR – If so ATWATER would have been in it LONG AGO!!!!!!!!!!!! People only take notice when a big name offensive player like T.O. does not get in.

    • February 19, 2017

      Can’t disagree with most of what you said there, James.

  3. Martin Sexton
    February 19, 2017

    In truth, articles like yours are about the only we are reminded of some those players who are more than qualified for enshrinement and remain silent. Probably because they realize that their accomplishments speak much louder than anything they could say, or at least they should. Although it doesn’t hurt for you and your fellow writers to beat the drum a little bit to keep those deserving from being totally forgotten. If nothing else, to try to drown out the noise of those who feel the HOF is somehow their birthright and not what it should be…an honor

    • February 19, 2017

      That’s what I don’t get. There’s a sense of entitlement here that really annoys me. Before Brett Favre got in he said he never thought about the Hall and was fine if he didn’t make it. Reason: He said he considered it an honor enough to have played as long as he did. Of course, Favre knew he was going to get in, but his attitude was what struck me. He thought so many others were qualified and considered it a privilege to be mentioned in the same breath as them. Now we have guys who throw tantrums and attack the process if they’re not first-ballot choices. Look, it’s not a perfect process. Few are. But it is the best we have, and the guys in that room are prepared, have reasoned and impassioned debates and, in the end, emerge with worthy candidates. I just look at the backlog of seniors … guys like a Billy Howton, Jerry Kramer, Drew Pearson or Johnny Robinson … that deserved to be in years ago, and it makes me shudder when I hear someone like Owens complain that he’s not in now. The line should form at the back, with the 15 most worthy — not 15 modern-era candidates — but the 15 MOST WORTHY admitted. Then you could put the seniors in with everyone else, and we’d start to shorten this backlog in a hurry.

      • February 19, 2017

        I love your idea about the 15 most worthy , I could even go for 10 , Then maybe the Bronco’s could get Gradishar in as he should by all rights be the next Bronco in as he has been waiting the longest. Hell , The Senior committee jumped him w/ Easley this year. Then , we could get Atwater and Mecklenburg in. I could be somewhat satisfied getting these 3 Defensive Bronco players in – But I am afraid we are going to have to wait for Champ Bailey to come up before a Bronco Defensive player gets in. I don’t see how he can be denied – But I thought that about Atwater!!!! Thanks for your thoughts Clark!

  4. Martin Sexton
    February 19, 2017

    That is a GREAT idea and it makes so much sense no wonder it hasn’t been implemented. Make it a policy that players who become newly eligible are placed behind the ones already qualified and are deserved of enshrinement. If it is established that they will have to wait their turn, it should remove the need to complain. The only exception might be a player that without question by anyone’s estimation is a Hall of Famer like Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and when he quits playing in 2022, Tom Brady. 🤔As you say, it opens up the door to clean up the backlog of deserving older players and eliminates the reason for newly eligible players to question why they are waiting. Besides, newly eligible players are still young in the grand scheme of things. Not so with the senior selections. Let’s give them their just honors before it is too late. They have patiently waited with dignity and silence and their recognition is long over due.

  5. Jordan
    February 20, 2017

    Oh, knock it off already. You already made it perfectly clear you will NEVER vote for Owens, you intend to campaign against him at the committee for as long as you are on it, and you don’t think he should be in the HOF _AT ALL_, ever. For you to tell him his “impatience” is unacceptable (which isn’t what this is about – he, like me, is sick of having the same myths about him dredged up every year for another opportunity to bash his character), and to completely change the argument because most of your peers think you and the others voting against him are being ridiculous, says a lot about you…and it’s not good.

    • February 20, 2017

      No myth that his own team suspended him … twice. No myth that Andy Reid was so sick of him he paid him to go away. No myth that Bill Parcells didnt show up at news conference in Dallas because he didnt want him. No myth that Parcells never called him by his name. No myth that when Jason Garrett took over he told Jerry Jones to get rid of the guy. No myth that the GM who drafted him said he wouldnt put him in Hall. No myth that HOF GM Bill Polian called him disruptive and said Hall should be for those who make their teams better not for those who make their teams worse. No myth that I, like Drew Pearson and others, believe there are others who have waited longer and are more deserving. Nobody is changing the argument, but I will tell you this: It is no myth that Owens is having EXACTLY the same impact on voters and fans alike that he had on football teams. Period. End of story.

  6. Jordan
    February 20, 2017

    >No myth that his own team suspended him … twice.

    So what? You know who else this is true of? 1st ballot HOFer Eric Dickerson. Colts, 1991. And that was after the Rams got rid of him after a contract dispute, by the way.

    And the 2nd suspension never happens without the ridiculous media involvement.

    >No myth that Andy Reid was so sick of him he paid him to go away.

    Andy Reid wanted to keep him on the team. Had Owens merely done what he was asked as far as apologizing after the Graham Bensinger interview, they would not have suspended him. Try reading the grievance hearing documents some time (http://www.espn.com/nfl/news/story?id=2234819)

    What’s more, the night before said hearing, Owens called Reid, who was still open to finding a way to fix things before someone else in the organization nixed the chance. http://www.espn.com/nfl/columns/story?id=2517883&columnist=paolantonio_sal

    Andy Reid is not on your side.

    “No myth that Bill Parcells didnt show up at news conference in Dallas because he didnt want him. No myth that Parcells never called him by his name.”

    Yeah, Parcells never wanted him. Who cares? What does him having preconceived notions about a player he didn’t want have to do with anything? Look at what he said about Owens after he retired:


    And since you’re in the business of speculation…don’t you think this might have also had to do with Parcells being upset about Jerry Jones cutting Keyshawn Johnson, who was one of his favorite players?

    “No myth that when Jason Garrett took over he told Jerry Jones to get rid of the guy.”

    This is an example of how you don’t even bother to really do your homework. Jason Garrett took over during the 2010 season, after Wade Phillips was fired. Owens was cut in March of 2009, when Phillips was still the head coach. I have a copy of Owens’s Notice of Termination form that he received after his release, dated March 5, 2009, and signed by Stephen Jones. He has asked that I not release it to the public, but here’s what people might be interested to learn:

    There are 5 options that can be indicated for the reason for termination (and it’s a “check all that apply” thing). The option checked on Owens’s form says, “In the judgment of the Club, your skill or performance has been unsatisfactory as compared with that of other players competing for positions on the Club’s roster.”

    The option below that, which is NOT checked, is, “You have engaged in personal conduct which, in the reasonable judgment of the Club, adversely affects or reflects on the club.”

    Apparently somebody forgot to tell the Cowboys’ front office that Owens was adversely affecting the team with intangibles.

    You conveniently ignore that Owens was 35 years old at the time and coming off his worst statistical season since 1999. Moreover, the Cowboys had traded a 1st and 3rd round pick to the Lions for Roy Williams during the 2008 season and gave him a new contract paying him #1 receiver money.

    “No myth that the GM who drafted him said he wouldnt put him in Hall.”

    He never had a single incident while the GM who drafted him (Dwight Clark) was with the 49eres. Had you asked him about Owens when he was with the team, he would’ve said something like, “he’s a terrific kid.”

    It wasn’t until he went to the star in Dallas in 2000 that the perception changed, thanks to the media.

    Why don’t you try asking his receivers coaches about him? You know, the guys who worked with him the most of anyone. Larry Kirskey, George Stewart, David Culley, and Ray Sherman. You’re not going to like what you hear, though, because it won’t support your view.

    “No myth that HOF GM Bill Polian called him disruptive and said Hall should be for those who make their teams better not for those who make their teams worse.”

    I must have missed when Polian was ever in the same organization as Owens.

    Also, claiming Owens made his teams worse is just false. He was on teams that went to the playoffs 8 times. He caught 25 touchdowns in regular season games his team won by 7 points or less. Only two receivers in NFL history had more touchdown receptions meeting that criteria – Cris Carter (34), and Jerry Rice (26).

    “No myth that I, like Drew Pearson and others, believe there are others who have waited longer and are more deserving. Nobody is changing the argument, but I will tell you this: It is no myth that Owens is having EXACTLY the same impact on voters and fans alike that he had on football teams. Period. End of story.”

    Your argument was that teams couldn’t wait to get rid of him, proving he didn’t help teams win and therefore wasn’t a Hall of Fame player. Most of your peers are now saying that’s nonsense, so now you and the others going against him are pulling out other arguments about players waiting to get in and dropped passes.

    Clearly, he’s not having the same impact on the voters as he had on teams. He made teams better.

    • February 21, 2017

      Jordan, thx for the note. Disagree with virtually everything you say and will leave it at that. I have said teams could not wait to get rid of him and I am not changing that argument. Not now. Not ever. Covered him and covered the teams he played on. You, obviously, have a different opinion, so stay with it. I will stay with mine.

  7. Jordan
    February 21, 2017

    In other words, the facts don’t matter to you. You’d think he did something to your family with your stubbornness on the issue. My hunch is you consider Steve Mariucci a friend from your time covering the 49ers.

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