Owens or Moss? “I take neither,” says HOF GM Polian


Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

Simple question: Randy Moss or Terrell Owens?

That’s a choice Hall-of-Fame voters face in 2018 when Moss becomes eligible for Canton, and it’s one bound to create considerable fallout … no matter what happens.

Voters can choose one of the two former receivers. Or they can choose both. Or they can choose neither.

So we put the question to Hall-of-Fame general manager Bill Polian and asked what he would do. His answer was as immediate as it was definitive.

“I take neither,” he said. “First of all, here’s my position: (I want players who) contribute both individually and to the team. T.O.’s situation, T.O.’s temperament, his ability to contribute to the team was well known up front. He was going to be a problem. We did not want to deal with problem children. Others may. We didn’t.

“That’s number one. Number two, every year in Indianapolis we said the following: ‘The price of admission is 100 percent effort all the time in everything we do.’ Well, how can we take Randy Moss when we make that statement? It’s that simple.”

For those who have forgotten, it was Moss who, in 2001, announced that “I play when I want to play” after critics complained he sometimes looked disinterested on the field and took plays off. Of course, it was also Moss who was so accomplished that he was a first-team all-decade choice for the 2000s.

Owens was named to the second team.

And there’s where the debate begins. Like Owens, Moss put up big numbers — setting single-season records for touchdown catches (23) and TD catches by a rookie (17), as well as ranking second all time in touchdown receptions, third in receiving yards and 15th in catches.

Like Owens, Moss failed to win a Super Bowl, though he went to two. Owens went to one. But, like Owens, he shuttled among five teams, including the Vikings twice, and was traded three times and waived once.

Furthermore, where effort was never questioned with Owens, it was with Moss — with Hall-of-Famer Jerry Rice once saying that watching someone as talented as Moss not always give 100 percent was “hard for me to swallow.” Nevertheless, like Owens, Moss is expected to reach Canton — maybe not as a first-ballot choice but soon.

“I think they will, unfortunately in my view,” said Polian, “because whether you like it or not. these ‘electoral campaigns’ have a way of swinging people. In my view, and I said this publicly last year, I think the Hall of Fames are for people who make their teams better, not who detract from them.

“Now, T.O. was a bigger detractor over his career than Moss, but you certainly wouldn’t call (Moss’ attitude) any harbinger or example of what you want in a football player other than when he decided to play. ‘I play when I play.’ I don’t buy it.”

Owens was one of two receivers in the Class of 2017. Isaac Bruce was the other. But both failed to make the cut from 15 to 10, with Bruce a finalist for the first time in three years of eligibility. There was no outcry over Bruce’s failure to be elected, yet Polian said he would choose the former Rams’ star ahead of Owens.

“Yes, of course, ” he said. “What did Owens do that made his teams better? He put up a lot of numbers. Bill (Parcells) said that he was a disruptive force. Jerry (Jones), who’s probably one of the most easy-going people when it comes to disruptive guys, got rid of him. I’ve gotten texts from people in Philadelphia responding to the campaign saying, ‘This guy was a cancer and destroyed our football team.’ How does that square with the Hall of Fame?

“Part of the motto of the Hall of Fame is (to) support the values of the game. How did he support the values of the game? It’s a team game. It’s not an individual game.”

Owens and his supporters have been critical of the Hall’s voters for not admitting him in his first two years of eligibility, with Owens three weeks ago calling the process “a total joke,” adding that “honestly, it doesn’t mean anything to me to get in beyond this point.” Nevertheless, we tried to reach him the past two weeks, hoping to give him an opportunity to make his case for Canton on our weekly Talk of Fame Network radio program.

We have not heard from him or his agent.

 

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32 Comments

  1. […] take neither,” Polian said, according to Clark Judge of The Talk of Fame Sports Network. “First of all, here’s my position: (I want players who) contribute both individually […]

  2. […] fact, Polian had some harsh criticisms of Owens during an interview with Clark Judge of the Talk of Fame Sports Network (h/t Jordan Heck of Sporting […]

  3. […] take neither,” Polian said, according to Clark Judge of The Talk of Fame Sports Network. “First of all, here’s my position: (I want players who) contribute both individually […]

  4. Martin Sexton
    February 27, 2017
    Reply

    As I have commented on some of your previous articles, I have no problem with both Owens and Moss waiting their turn for induction. I did find it interesting to read Mr. Polians take on the subject and his misgivings about what he believes constitutes a Hall of Famer. Just as an exercise, I did a little research into whether or not Moss made his team “better.” When considering Moss, there is evidence of an increase in wins in a couple of cases. When he joined the Vikings in 1998 in his rookie year, they went from 9-7 to 15-1. There is more to that story than the addition of Moss but his still record of 17 TD’s cannot be ignored. It also proved what a “motivated” Moss could do. He was offended by the number of teams that passed over him in the draft (especially the Cowboys) and made it an emphasis to prove teams wrong. He produced 90 TD’s in his first 7 year stint with the Vikings and their record was 36-12 over his first three years. The next four seasons they went 28-36. Still he averaged almost 13 TD’s a season during that time but it wasn’t enough to stop them from trading him to the Raiders. It was with the Raiders that his effort was brought into question, and he did nothing playing wise or verbally to squash that belief as his production dropped to just 11 TD’s in the 2 years he was there. In addition, record wise they went from 5-11 before him to 4-12 his first year and 2-14 his 2nd. Again, there was a lot more going on there than just Moss but his attitude didn’t help. From there, NE traded for him surrendering only a 4th round pick. Newly re-motivated by Belichick and Brady, he set an NFL record with 23 TD’s and NE (who everyone know is good every year) went from 12-4 to 16-0. He played three seasons for the Patriots, averaging over 15 TD’s but he was still traded back to the Vikings. Less than 4 weeks in, he was waived by the Vikings after criticizing his teammates and the head coach after a loss to the Patriots. Short stops to Tennessee and San Francisco ended his career. So from the outside looking in, he was good for a team in the short term, but eventually he wore out his welcome. Productive to be sure, but not an all about the team guy. Sounds like someone else and we know how THAT has gone so far.

  5. February 27, 2017
    Reply

    And Bill Polian is in the Hall of Fame despite imploring his team to break Doug Flutie’s legs. Hard to take him seriously at this stage of his career.

    The best players belong in the Hall of Fame. TO and Moss were all time greats and them not entering diminishes the Hall of Fame’s reputation, not the WRs’.

    • Martin Sexton
      February 27, 2017
      Reply

      I respect your opinion and you’re right, the best players SHOULD get into the Hall, but it doesn’t have to be in the first or second year or eligibility. Also, I doubt you should hold something against Polian that was said in the heat of the moment in the press box back in 2005. As many times as the Patriots have beaten teams, I doubt he was the first or last to rail against them. He just was unfortunate enough for someone to over hear him and notate what was said. Besides, it hardly trumps being named a six time executive of the year. Don’t be too concerned. It will all come out in the wash eventually.

      • March 8, 2017
        Reply

        Where have you gone? You used to write at least once a day. Now MIA. What happened?

  6. […] also believes Owens did absolutely nothing to make his teams better. During an interview with the Talk of Fame Sports Network, Polian explained why he would pass on Owens and Moss if either became available to him during […]

  7. […] Monday, Polian told Clark Judge on Talk of Fame Network that he doesn’t think Terrell Owens and Randy Moss belong in the Hall of Fame. His reasoning? […]

  8. […] Monday, Polian told Clark Judge on Talk of Fame Network that he doesn’t think Terrell Owens and Randy Moss belong in the Hall of Fame. His reasoning? […]

  9. […] Monday, Polian told Clark Judge on Talk of Fame Network that he doesn’t think Terrell Owens and Randy Moss belong in the Hall of Fame. His reasoning? […]

  10. […] Monday, Polian told Clark Judge on Talk of Fame Network that he doesn’t think Terrell Owens and Randy Moss belong in the Hall of Fame. His reasoning? […]

  11. Harrison Fitch
    February 27, 2017
    Reply

    Bill Polian was a whiner wwho does’nt belong in the Hall. Saw my first football game in 1948 in Alliance ,Ohio when I was 5, and have seen all of the great ones. Polian is not a great one. Moss absolutely belongs. So does T.O., fellows don’t forget Ty Law.

  12. […] Polian doesn't belive Moss or Owens belong in the HOF Owens or Moss? "I take neither," says HOF GM Polian – Talk Of Fame Radio. __________________ Unfortunately jealousy and envy are a disease that can't be cured. -Robert […]

  13. Raul Lizarraga
    February 27, 2017
    Reply

    Just look at the records of teams that TO played on and then those same teams records after TO left. Look,his numbers overwhelmingly speak for themselves. TO was better than any WR that Polian ever drafted.

  14. […] want players who] contribute both individually and to the team,” Polian said in an interview on Talk of Fame Sports Network. “T.O.’s situation, T.O.’s temperament, his ability to contribute to the team was well known […]

  15. […] take neither,” Polian said, according to Clark Judge of The Talk of Fame Sports Network. “First of all, here’s my position: (I want players who) contribute both individually […]

  16. […] It’s a valid question, as Moss will become eligible for the first time in 2018, and voters only can choose one of the wideouts. But Polian’s answer was a bit perplexing. […]

  17. […] doesn’t check the right boxes, as Polian told Talk of Fame Sports Network’s Clark Judge : googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display( "gpt-ad-medium-rectangle-middle" ); […]

  18. […] It’s a valid question, as Moss will become eligible for the first time in 2018, and voters only can choose one of the wideouts. But Polian’s answer was a bit perplexing. […]

  19. […] “I take neither,” Polian said. “First of all, here’s my position: [I want players who] contribute both individually and to the team. T.O.’s situation, T.O.’s temperament, his ability to contribute to the team was well known up front. He was going to be a problem. We did not want to deal with problem children. Others may. We didn’t. That’s number one. Number two, every year in Indianapolis we said the following: ‘The price of admission is 100 percent effort all the time in everything we do.’ Well, how can we take Randy Moss when we make that statement? It’s that simple.” […]

  20. […] It’s a valid question, as Moss will become eligible for the first time in 2018, and voters only can choose one of the wideouts. But Polian’s answer was a bit perplexing. […]

  21. […] It’s a valid question, as Moss will become eligible for the first time in 2018, and voters only can choose one of the wideouts. But Polian’s answer was a bit perplexing. […]

  22. […] “I take neither,” Polian said. “First of all, here’s my position: [I want players who] contribute both individually and to the team. T.O.’s situation, T.O.’s temperament, his ability to contribute to the team was well known up front. He was going to be a problem. We did not want to deal with problem children. Others may. We didn’t. That’s number one. Number two, every year in Indianapolis we said the following: ‘The price of admission is 100 percent effort all the time in everything we do.’ Well, how can we take Randy Moss when we make that statement? It’s that simple.” […]

  23. […] Former Indianapolis Colts executive Bill Polian opened up a can of takes that expired in 2007 to answer a question about whether he’d vote for Terrell Owens and Randy Moss for the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. (Owens has been eligible for the Hall for two years now but hasn’t yet been voted in; Moss will be eligible in 2018.) From Talk Of Fame Network: […]

  24. […] Former Indianapolis Colts executive Bill Polian opened up a can of takes that expired in 2007 to answer a question about whether he’d vote for Terrell Owens and Randy Moss for the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. (Owens has been eligible for the Hall for two years now but hasn’t yet been voted in; Moss will be eligible in 2018.) From Talk Of Fame Network: […]

  25. […] take neither,” Polian said, according to Clark Judge of The Talk of Fame Sports Network. “First of all, here’s my position: (I want players who) contribute both individually […]

  26. […] “I take neither,” Polian told Clark Judge for the Talk of Fame Sports Network. […]

  27. […] It’s a valid question, as Moss will become eligible for the first time in 2018, and voters only can choose one of the wideouts. But Polian’s answer was a bit perplexing. […]

  28. […] While speaking to Clark Judge of Talk of Fame Sports Network, Polian had this to say: […]

  29. mike
    March 7, 2017
    Reply

    I don’t necessarily disagree with Mr. Polian’s opinion concerning Moss’s lack of effort at times, but cherry-picking which players are called out bothers me as much as the arbitrary criterion for “effort.” No matter what sort of spin one wants to put on it in this quarterback-coddling era, when a QB puts forth zero effort to make a tackle after a turnover either because they lack the courage or they don’t see it as their job, that is in fact the exact same sort of effort-less play that Moss was guilty of. Mr. Polian is pretty tight with the worst culprit of this in tackle football history.

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