Exploring the “teams couldn’t wait to get rid of” T.O. narrative

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Setting aside for now (but perhaps not for long) whether the not-so-subtle admonition from Hall of Fame quarterback and Hall of Fame voter Dan Fouts to Terrell Owens about criticizing the process proves that his omission from the Hall of Fame is less about whether he deserves a spot in Canton and more about whether the panel “likes” him, it’s time to unwrap an increasingly common theme. If the journalists on the selection committee who are opposed to Owens aren’t going to do it, then a sort-of journalist who will never be on the selection committee needs to.

Here’s a quick caveat: I’m not doing this because I “like” Terrell Owens. I’m ambivalent at best about him as a person. In 2013, he called me “Satan,” so depending on T.O.’s personal worship habits it’s safe to assume he doesn’t like me.

That said, I’d like to think after following the NFL for more than 40 years and working in this business for nearly 17, I know a Hall of Famer when I see one. Owens, in my opinion, is a Hall of Famer, and it’s not close.

I also have developed a very strong aversion over the years to BS. There seems plenty of it going around regarding Owens.

The biggest potential pile comes from the narrative that multiple “teams couldn’t wait to get rid” of Owens. First publicly articulated a year ago by Gary Myers of the New York Daily News when being properly grilled by Ross Tucker for specific proof that Owens was too disruptive to be enshrined, the presumption that the 49ers, Eagles, Cowboys, Bills, and Bengals all lined up to dump Owens continues to emerge as a knee-jerk mantra for justifying keeping him out of Canton — and possibly as a pretext for the fact that the folks voting to snub him simply don’t like him.

This year, the “teams couldn’t wait to get rid” of Owens narrative is back. Fouts echoed it in explaining T.O.’s omission. So did Hall of Fame voter Ira Kaufman of JoeBucsFan.com.

“Teams couldn’t wait to get rid of him at his peak,” Kaufman said regarding Owens during a Wednesday appearance on Chris Russo’s SiriusXM radio show. “He was suspended twice, he was told, ‘We don’t want you around.’ The Eagles said, ‘Goodbye, we don’t want you. Get out of here.’ The 49ers said, ‘We don’t want to see you anymore. . . . This is about a guy who teams couldn’t wait to get rid of.”

That’s a gross oversimplification of the situation at best. It’s a flat-out misrepresentation at worst. (It’s not Ira’s fault; he’s simply passing along the things he’s being told by members of the committee who oppose Owens’ enshrinement.)

Lets’ start with the 49ers. Owens had the ability to void the final two years of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent in 2004. Based on some of the information gathered by PFT (i.e., sort-of journalism), it is believed that the 49ers would have gladly kept Owens beyond his eight years with the team if he hadn’t voided his contract. However, they weren’t interested in signing him as an unrestricted free agent, given that the team was young and rebuilding — and that it would have been very expensive to sign him in competition with the open market.

Ultimately, an error in the filing of the paperwork voiding his contract resulted in an effort by the 49ers to trade Owens to the Ravens, a grievance filed by the union, and a settlement that resulted in Owens being shipped to the Eagles under a seven-year, $42 million contract with a $10 million signing bonus. (The Ravens reportedly would have paid him $17 million to sign, but Owens reportedly wanted to play with Donovan McNabb, not Kyle Boller.)

Owens delivered immediately in Philadelphia, with 1,200 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in 14 regular-season games. He suffered a broken ankle during a December 19 win over the Cowboys, missed two regular-season games, missed two playoff games, and somehow returned for Super Bowl XXXIX, catching nine passes for 122 yards and arguably performing better than any other player on the field in a 24-21 loss to the Patriots.

Due to earn a base salary of $7.5 million in 2005 and looking for a more significant financial reward for his efforts in 2004, Owens asked for a raise. The Eagles, notorious at the time for putting their ability to manage the salary cap and to sign young players to long-term deals they would likely outperform over winning, refused. Repeatedly.

So Owens opted to utilize the leverage available to him. Instead of holding out, however, he chose be disruptive in the hopes of getting paid or getting traded to a team that would pay him. An ill-advised tactic to be sure, the reality is that the Eagles wanted to keep Owens under the terms of the contract he signed. Only after a season of squabbles and suspensions and grievances and exasperation did the Eagles give Owens his freedom.

If Owens hadn’t decided to take a stand and try to get the Eagles to adjust his contract based on what he did in 2004, the Eagles would have been happy to keep him around. Put simply, they “couldn’t wait to get rid” of Owens only after Owens made it clear that, without a new contract, he couldn’t wait to leave.

Beyond the 49ers and Eagles, it’s likewise a stretch to say teams “couldn’t wait to get rid of” Owens. In 2006, the Cowboys gladly embraced Owens, signing him to a three-year, $25 million deal. Two years later, the Cowboys didn’t cut him. They signed him to a new contract, worth $34 million over four years with a $12 million signing bonus.

Yes, the Cowboys cut Owens in 2009. But if they “couldn’t wait to get rid of” him, why did they sign him to a new deal following only two seasons with the team?

After leaving Dallas, Owens signed a one-year deal with the Bills, for $6.5 million. He wasn’t cut or suspended or otherwise gotten rid of before the contract ended and he became a free agent once again.

Ditto the following year, in Cincinnati. Owens signed a one-year deal, played one year for the Bengals, tore an ACL in the process, became a free agent again at the age of 37, and ultimately never played in another regular-season game.

To summarize, Owens spent eight years with the 49ers, and they would have kept him if he hadn’t had the ability to void the remaining years of his contract. He then spent two years with the Eagles, and they gladly would have extended the stay if he had gladly accepted the terms of a contract he quickly outperformed.

Owens then spent three years with the Cowboys, who ripped up the final year of a three-year deal and gave him a four-year contract one year before moving on. The Bills then signed him for a year, the Bengals signed him for a year, and that was that.

Was Owens a disruption at times? Yes. Should that be considered when assessing his Hall of Fame credentials? Yes, as long as the issues are being fully and properly fleshed out — and as long as the voters are considering the disruptions created by other players who made it to Canton in past years, including but not limited to the stabbing of a teammate in the neck with scissors on team property.

Absent an objective look at T.O.’s career and a comparison of his locker-room characteristics to other players who previously have made it to Canton, it appears that the narratives preventing Owens from enshrinement are nothing more than a lazy and convenient excuse for keeping Owens out, apparently because those who oppose him simply don’t care for him.

92 responses to “Exploring the “teams couldn’t wait to get rid of” T.O. narrative

  1. Myself, I can’t think of any criminal activity the guy was ever involved with or anything outside of trying to get paid that would give anyone pause. He’s got the numbers, accolades and played in the big game once. Sounds lovely like a group of dudes who he didn’t make nice with are just salty.

  2. “…he chose be disruptive in the hopes of getting paid or getting traded to a team that would pay him. An ill-advised tactic to be sure, the reality is that the Eagles wanted to keep Owens under the terms of the contract he signed. Only after a season of squabbles and suspensions and grievances and exasperation did the Eagles give Owens his freedom.”

    My goodness. That is an argument for putting him in the HOF?? Trying to imagine how many picoseconds he would have lasted in Foxborough.

  3. TO certainly had HOF numbers, but he was a pain everywhere he went.

    Teams want to ignore the atrocious behavior of their HOF level players because they want to win regardless of morals or anything else, and HOF level players continue to push the edge of the envelope for ego, money, and whatever else they can get out of the whole system

    but that doesn’t make it right, nor does it mean that TO or anyone else should just get a HOF slot despite the destructive things they do

    this problem should end, why not now? behavior and the example they set for fans and our kids should count in the process and I would bet most fans would be AOK with TO getting passed by

  4. About the best article I’ve ever read on this subject. I love seeing these lazy narratives picked apart. Instead of the lies, I’d respect guys more say they just don’t like him. He made every team he played for better.

  5. campcouch says:
    Feb 9, 2017 12:29 AM
    Myself, I can’t think of any criminal activity the guy was ever involved with or anything outside of trying to get paid that would give anyone pause. He’s got the numbers, accolades and played in the big game once. Sounds lovely like a group of dudes who he didn’t make nice with are just salty.

    I think he has had repeated issues with missed child support payments. Not sure if that qualifies as criminal activity or general douchiness.

  6. Michael Irvin did cocaine. Ray Lewis pled guilty to obstruction of justice in a murder case. Irvin had no trouble getting in, and Lewis is expected to be a 1st ballot Hall of Famer.

    Too many sportswriters happily participate in the hive mind and don’t do the hard work of verifying facts on their own. Florio is a notable exception, and I applaud him for that.

  7. To be honest I think there is something more going on. Something more sociological. Think about it, no criminal behavior, just off-putting moments of “personality”. But maybe if it wasn’t for his athleticism maybe he’s the kid in high-school that you don’t have fun with but you make fun of? He’s a primadonna and that can’t be forgiven because he is also someone you keep outside the cool circle. To give him his due is to include him in the circle. We can forgive killers, rapists and cheaters but we can’t forgive “losers” being winners… not if we have any say in the matter.
    Anyway, just a theory.

  8. So basically HoF voters are flexing the little power they have. TO deserved to be in 1st ballot, playing nice with the media appears to be a must. Still think Dungy isn’t HoF, at least not 1st Ballot but since he played nice with the media (and is in the media) got to get their buddy in.

  9. This might be the best and accurate article that I have read on this website. I love Dan scouts, great QB, great football player but he is totally out of bounds on this one. Players are suppose to be judged on what they did ON the football field period. Nothing more, nothing less. TO more than qualifies to be a HOFer. There are more than a few players that are in the HOF that struggle as human beings off the field. No doubt Owens has his issues but he is no criminal, just a temperamental individual and his credentials are outstanding. One other thing that I would like to add, I’m a diehard Bills’ fan and I was ecstatic to have him on the team, he was good player and teammate for us and never caused a problem whatsoever. It’s an injustice that he didn’t get inducted in his first year of eligibility. Owens is right it is a flawed process.

  10. “They would have kept him if…”

    “They would have kept him if…”

    “Likewise, they would have kept him if…”

    Ok, so you can elide the “couldn’t wait” part of the statement, but the rest of it is pretty accurate. Maybe the problem is his ego blows up when he gets the contract extension and he forgets that he’s part of a team. Regardless, the bashing of his own offensive confreres, then causing the “Hatfields vs McCoys” syndrome in the locker room with the defense is still a problem.

  11. It’s an opinion. Id never put him in. The HOF should be for team guys who youd want your child to look up to. Was TO that!? Nope.

  12. “… it appears that the narratives preventing Owens from enshrinement are nothing more than a lazy and convenient excuse for keeping Owens out, apparently because those who oppose him simply don’t care for him.”

    Actually, it’s because they didn’t like how he insulted them just weeks before they voted.

    Funny how simple that is…

  13. Mike, i wasn’t a huge fan of his style but I appreciate you exposing a narrative that may reflect a lazy and abusive media. Who would have thunk ?

    But it also looks like he had a money fight in SF and Philly (only 1 year in, on a contract he signed) and Dallas obviously changed their minds in yr 3. No saint here ?

  14. First, Owens deserves to be in. He played at a very high level for a long time and his numbers warrant his induction. However, you are playing revisionist history. Let’s start with the 49ers. He started becoming a cancer in 2000 with the “Star” game against Dallas. A tiff with Mooch but not a big deal. Then, in 2001, he accuses Mooch of throwing the game against Chicago because he’s friends with Dick Jauron. After losing a playoff game to Green Bay, he starts grumbling about wanting out. No big deal still. 2002, he’s fairly quiet. He shows up to camp in 2003 angry for some reason. He turns on Jeff Garcia and begins dividing the locker room, which becomes a theme for his next two stops–players either love him or hate him but the QB’s definitely feel his wrath. He even suggests that Garcia is gay. He has blowups on the sidelines regularly and makes it clear that he wants out. Every week on KNBR, it was the “when’s T.O.’s next estrogen-fueled rant.” We knew he had the right to void the remaining 2 years of his deal and that he was going to walk.

    He then becomes an Eagle. Their fans loved him in year 1. He ends the year with a Super Bowl loss but is lauded for coming back quickly from ankle surgery and playing well. But after the game, the estrogen got to him again. He complains about how he’s not considered a hero for coming back so quickly from surgery and that if it was McNabb that came back quickly, he’d be considered a hero. Uh oh. It was a weird offseason where yes, he complains about the contract he signed just a year earlier, but takes shots at McNabb. Yes, he had an ill-advised holdout and holds a stupid press conference with Drew Rosenhaus after doing push ups and sit ups in front of news crews but he ultimately shows up to camp albeit in camo fatigues. He gets in to a fight with Hugh Douglas, gets suspended, and then finally jettisoned at the end of the season. Again, some players, like Jevon Kearse, loved him. Others, like the object of his fury, McNabb, hate him.

    Off to Dallas. Everything seems ok when he arrives. He has a hammy injury, so he starts out on an exercise bike as Tour de T.O. Things seem fine but then he has that weird episode where he attempted suicide or took supplements or his dumbass PR person didn’t understand what pills he took. 2006 and 2007 were otherwise uneventful until the estrogen kicked in after a playoff loss in January 2008 when crying about Romo. He thought it was unfair that the media brought up the excursion Romo had with Jessica Simpson–“that’s my quarterback.” Everything seems great!

    “But if they “couldn’t wait to get rid of” him, why did they sign him to a new deal following only two seasons with the team?” Maybe because he wasn’t a cancer in years one and two. Put another way, why cut the guy 9 months after giving him a $12 million bonus? Because in year 3, he began berating Romo and Witten for “creating plays behind his back” and clashing with Jason Garrett.

    What happens after that is irrelevant. Buffalo, Cincy, who cares? Anyone watch the TOcho Show? He still had talent and could’ve continued playing but his reputation prevented teams from taking the chance. In 2011, the 49ers had great success in Harbaugh’s first year. When Braylon Edwards and Josh Morgan went down with injuries, the 49ers refused to bring back Owens despite his pleas because they didn’t want to disrupt the team’s chemistry. Instead, they signed Brett Swain.

    So yes, he was a great player and deserves to be in the HOF. Perhaps they are just delaying him just to punish him for being a cancer but the punishment has been served. Time to put him in.

  15. T.O was a jerk but still belongs in Canton

    HOF voters should base induction off of career performance not on his personality or how they were disrespected by him.

    Give the man his due.

    Same goes for Pete Rose in MLB.

  16. What is it with the hall and wr? Make guys like Cris Carter wait. Then elect John Stallworth. I’m a Steelers fan, and Stallworth was a great player for them but he’s not a hall of famer. Owens is.

  17. “If you do that, that’s really unfair,” “Really unfair. That’s my Hall of Famer. That’s my receiver. We lost as a team. We lost as a team, man.”

  18. If he kept his mouth shut after the 2004 Super Bowl he would be the mayor of Philadelphia right now…if he wasn’t still a starting WR for the Eagles. Worst train wreck if franchise history.

  19. Florio, even if you say the glove doesn’t fit, there’s a lot more to the story. Owens is the only “great” player I’ve ever seen who hurt his team more than he helped. That’s why he’s getting this treatment. Anyone talk to Steve Mariucci lately?

  20. I can’t deny that Owens deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but I feel like this is definitely some people’s way at getting back at him and maybe trying to discourage other players from acting out like he did. He’ll eventually get in (maybe even next year with Moss perhaps?). I can’t be too salty at him for nix’ing the trade to Baltimore…I mean who would want to play with Kyle “I shoulda been a” Boller? Also if Ray Lewis gets in next year (which he will) and TO doesn’t at least Florio will be able to add “accused murderer” with Irvin’s scissor stabbing, as players with checkered past who have gotten in, so that should make him tingle in the loins.

  21. First of all, he belongs in the HOF regardless of how much of a tool he was. And he wasn’t always as bad of a tool as it seemed… the media loved to pounce on him. Now I can’t stand the guy, he was the epitome of the me-first diva WR but he also had his moments of professionialism and frankly I think he was the victim of bad advice from his agent (Rosenhaus) most of the time.

    But I do disagree with this story regarding his tone in Philly… I don’t buy into the “out-performed his contract” BS. To me, signing a big contract (and that was a big contract at that time) and having one great season does not justify tearing it up and doing a new one. I think if he had 2-3 great seasons that would be another story but, as I recall when he went to Philly he changed agents shortly after and Rosenhaus wasn’t going to get paid unless there was a new contract… I think that dynamic was what lead to the debacle in Philly.

    Simply put, if TO had better advisors (i.e. agent) he probably would have been held in higher regard throughout his career, probably would have made even more money, and would heading to Canton this year.

  22. You are getting sidetracked by the wrong issue. Yes, TO belongs in the Hall, IMO. But his antics hurt his teams and should count against him. You don’t put a DE in the Hall because he had a good spin move, but because that spin move got him sacks and helped his team win. What TO did his second year in Philly helped his team lose and detracts from his overall worthiness. So there should be a cost for his behavior. Is a one year delay the correct cost? I don’t know. He will get in eventually and deserves to. But he will always be a selfish schmuck.

  23. I’m a Giants fan living in Philly and let me tell you that town loves him. This guy forced his way out of their town and they still adore him, because they know how good he was.

    TO is a hall of famer (as is Dawkins) and the voting committee is a joke.

  24. I think we’re talking semantics here. In S.F. and Philly, TO wanted something the team didn’t want to give him; more money. It was his decision to either leave or stick with his contract. In S.F. he voided the deal, which was his right. In Philly he became a cartoon.
    Dallas did re-sign him, but obviously chose to cut him a year after that. That seems to indicate they didn’t want him.
    Neither Buffalo or Cincy wanted him any longer than his contract, at least not at his price.
    It may be overstating it to say they couldn’t wait to get rid of him, but it’s certainly true that no one really wanted to keep him, at least not at his price.

  25. All it’s doing is making the whole thing look more suspect than it already is. I was done with them years ago when they made Kenny Stabler wait until the guy died because he had a beef with a local Alabama writer years ago who said he set him up. I don’t respect that kind of nonsense.

  26. T.O belongs in the Hall, but I notice crickets from former teammates and coaches regarding his hall exclusion. He’ll get in, but it’s nice seeing him squirm a bit while waiting induction. Michael Irvin waited three years, so can T.O.

  27. “If Owens hadn’t decided to take a stand and try to get the Eagles to adjust his contract based on what he did in 2004, the Eagles would have been happy to keep him around. Put simply, they “couldn’t wait to get rid” of Owens only after Owens made it clear that, without a new contract, he wanted out.”

    I read this as a distinction without a difference. Just as the Pats couldn’t wait to get rid of Moss (and didn’t wait) when he began to be disruptive. Maybe it was really only one team (eagles) that couldn’t wait to get rid of him, so it is technically incorrect to say “teams”, but that disruptive nature was not an aberration as he criticized his team and teammates in SF as well.

    Now does that mean he should not be in the hall. I don’t know, but how you act and how you treat people matters in this world. Fairly or unfairly, in what is often referred to as the ultimate team game, if you are not a team player it will come back to bite you.

  28. Owens deserves to be in the HoF and no one should doubt that he will get in at some point. If some old school voters are letting an infamous ‘me’ guy twist in the wind for it I am fine with that just so long as it doesn’t keep him out.

  29. “Instead of holding out, however, he chose be disruptive in the hopes of getting paid or getting traded to a team that would pay him.”

    Yep, that sounds like a stand-up guy that’s a boon to any organization he’s a part of. Can’t imagine where the selfish malcontent label could possibly come from. (The article also neglects to mention that Owens had already been paid, and was at the time being paid.)

  30. This is a fantastic read for all those people that hate T.O but don’t really know why. Especially Eagles fans, he had every reason in the world to want to have his contract renegotiated. Looking back now I think it’s safe to say that the Eagles know that they shouldn’t have been so stubborn and signed him to a new deal, but they learned the hard way. Meanwhile the HOF voting committee keeps losing credibility by the year

  31. Maybe “can’t wait to get ride of” is too strong. But all these teams did let him go. His production warranted the money he was due or asking for, but they still let him go. So obviously there is something more to it. And even when he”retired” he wanted to play and for a salary that was reasonable for the level of production he could still provide, but all teams passed. Again, there must be some reason for this.

  32. Great article on TO. Stats alone he should be in, and the fact that teams had to game plan for him tells you he was one of the best (and those are the guys that deserve to be in the HoF).

  33. Owens is a classic example of the guy you want on your team but not in your locker room. His “look at me” attitude is what is holding him back and I couldn’t agree more with those who gave him thumbs down.

    This league is transforming into the WWE diva series and guys like Owens were on the vanguard. By comparison, a guy like Edelman gives it all every game and doesn’t need a sharpie or other juvenile props to make him look important.

    Energy is finite. Every joule (get it? ) of energy wasted on theatrical productions is energy that could have been redirected to football. How good could TO have been had he not squandered those joules on cheap stunts and hucksterism? Perhaps good enough to have won a SB with Philly instead of a 3 point loss?

  34. Journalists shaping the narrative? Like Hell you say?? I mean, that NEVER happens. Especially in today’s media climate. Journalists don’t have their own personal agendas or axes to grind. They just report the news….

    I wholeheartedly agree with the tone of this article.

  35. The writers/voters must. E replaced immediately. This has set a terrible precedent and allowing personal feelings to intrude a players legacy is blasphemous. I’d rather have a guy be a d!ck in the locker room than half a$$ it on the field which Owens never did but someone who will be up for enshrinement next year was known to do from time to time. I bet that gets glossed over though.

  36. I have a feeling the HOF is going to let him in next year for the simple fact that if they don’t the uproar of people calling for change is going to get louder and louder until it can’t be ignored.

    They have to realize this is the 21st century and we have eyes on everything. They can’t hide in the shadows safe from the blowback of their decisions like they could a couple decades ago.

    T.O. isn’t a guy I’d have a beer with either, but I still want him in the HOF.

  37. I still don’t like him, i wouldn’t vote for him and i hope he never gets in. I can remember every time he was out of work i would cringe at the thought of my team picking him up.

  38. WasLemmytoocontroversial? says:
    Feb 9, 2017 8:21 AM
    Owens is a classic example of the guy you want on your team but not in your locker room. His “look at me” attitude is what is holding him back and I couldn’t agree more with those who gave him thumbs down.

    This league is transforming into the WWE diva series and guys like Owens were on the vanguard. By comparison, a guy like Edelman gives it all every game and doesn’t need a sharpie or other juvenile props to make him look important.

    Energy is finite. Every joule (get it? ) of energy wasted on theatrical productions is energy that could have been redirected to football. How good could TO have been had he not squandered those joules on cheap stunts and hucksterism? Perhaps good enough to have won a SB with Philly instead of a 3 point loss?

    ————

    Owens played his butt off that SB with a broken ankle….. He was NOT the reason the Eagles lost the SB. If anything, he was the best player on the team,

  39. It’s obvious that if there is no one standing on a desk advocating for a candidate that makes it very hard to get enshrined. The nay sayers win the argument!
    Who in that room is going to stand up for T O ?
    While we are at it, who is going to stand for Art Modell? He should go in with Ray Lewis

  40. Seems to me, he just wasnt a team player…. And a lot of other players at the time aroud the league didnt like him. Not a Dallas fan, but he Stomped on the Dallas Star at mid field. Disrespect. After a TD in Seattle, he pulled a sharpie out of his sock and signed autographs in the end zone…disrespect. Delay of game.. and this goes on and on and on…His EGO is why many dont like him. Even if he gets in next year, I dont think he will ‘really’ be part of the ‘club’…

  41. You make several good points. I would like to take issue with one of them: “Yes, the Cowboys cut Owens in 2009. But if they “couldn’t wait to get rid of” him, why did they sign him to a new deal following only two seasons with the team?”

    This contract is one of the many reasons Jerry Jones does NOT belong in the HOF. He gave TO that contract despite the contrary wishes of his head coach. Doesn’t everyone remember that Bill Parcells got so completely disgusted with TO that he refused to call him by name? In his pressers, TO was “the player.” So I don’t think that big Dallas contract is a viable argument in TO’s favor. The rest of your points are, though.

    It is rather silly that voters keep a deserving player out because they don’t like him. But why do they not like him? It is because he was the most egregious “ME FIRST” player most of these voters have ever seen. The “workout in the driveway” thing, posing on the star in Texas Stadium as a 49er, his constant cry of “I love me some me!”, and that incident that looks like he feigned being suicidal just to get back on the front page… There have been plenty of selfish divas, especially at his position, but he took it to a whole other level, and those of us who can appreciate self-confidence but love seeing the game played as a team game were just sickened by him.

    Does he deserve to be in? You would have to be a total, complete fool to say no. Does his constant demeaning of the concept of team make it understandable why former players don’t want to vote him in? To me, yes.

  42. Poor guy should have done what Ray Lewis did right before he retired and remade his image via a few interviews and some cool photoshoots. None of it would have had to be anywhere close to real but all the media guys would have eaten it up just like they did with Lewis.

  43. WalrusPete pretty much covers it up above but if you were watching the league back then I’m sure you remember the highlights at least:
    -Insinuating that his QB in SF was gay without actually coming out and saying it
    -Things he said about his QB in Philly, even when they were winning
    -Taking verbal shots at Romo in Dallas, and the whole suicide attempt that turned into the “million reasons” circus

    He has a pattern of talking crap about his quarterbacks while he is on the team and while things are generally going well, and that’s the stuff we know about. I suspect there may have been even more inside the locker room. Lots of players are jerks to reporters but this seems to be a case of reporters hearing things from other players and forming an opinion beyond “he was a jerk to a few people”. Notice the lack of other players upset about his HoF status. People say it’s about what happens on the field but I think the locker room is a part of that too and if a bunch of your former teammates hate you, why should HoF voters ignore that?

    (and yes, I get the disconnect that criminal behavior seems to be little or no obstacle to induction. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just noting a likely reason for this guy.)

  44. TO was a great WR, but a “me first” teammate who was an absolute cancer and the absolute antithesis of the Patriots way. He poisoned the locker room and created team discord in SF, Phill and Dallas. TO thought he was bigger than his team and bigger than the game. He was wrong. It’s a shame, really.

  45. It doesn’t matter even if the narrative is true.

    Being in the HoF isn’t about how good a team mate you were, it’s what you produced on the field. In that, he gets in.

    Writers that can’t understand this need their vote taken away.

  46. TO should have made it before everyone else in the class except for Morten Andersen.

    But we have at least 3 players in the class that have no business at all being there

    Terrell Davis – too short a career 95-01, great player not a HOFer
    Kenny Easley – too short a career 81-87, good player, nothing special
    Kurt Warner – Great in 1999, 2001 and 2008, rest of his career was average.

  47. I think it comes down to whether it’s appropriate for HOF voters to vote on the fundamental question- not just about stats – but did this individual’s presence on a team improve the team or hurt it?

    For all T.O.’s number his behaviors were serious bulletin board material for a lot of years. We’re seeing it now with OBJ…. did the trip on the party boat REALLY do any damage to the Giants? Maybe. Maybe not. Did the perception of OBJ on a party boat (instead of preparing for the playoffs) REALLY do any damage. I think it did. The concept of self over team. Good players can get away with it. The elite – the first ballot HOFers – rise above it.

    You want to look at the really great ones – Jerry Rice. Walter Payton. Barry Sanders. Joe Montana. Steve Young. Peyton Manning. Never got up to antics that took the focus off the team. A rising tide lifts all boats. Even the bad actions by Ray Lewis, no one can say he wasn’t a helluva a teammate. I’d put him in my locker room any day. You can be madly passionate about your position and strut your stuff and toot your own horn all you want – but not at the expense of your team and that’s the intangible in all this.

    Do I think Kurt Warner was an elite QB would should have gotten the HOF? No. Do I think Jerry Jones should be there? No. Do I think that both of their teams BENEFITTED from their personalities (e.g. beyond the numbers)? Yes. That’s what separates the ordinary from the extra-ordinary. That’s why we celebrate “goodness” in addition to “greatness”.

    That’s the yardstick. That’s why it took 3 times for Michael Irvin to make into the HOF. That’s why T.O. isn’t there yet. If T.O. came out tomorrow and said, yeah I was a great WR but I could have been a much better teammate and opponent, I think some of the slime factor would be reduced. I’m not suggesting he apologize for being who he is…. just suggesting that him being who he is has had some natural consequences. Like when Chad Ochocinco came out with that yellow jacket with Future HOF Class of ???? on it, who didn’t think that was a distraction and a pretty jerky move? That’s the #81 I think of when I see him – a player who cared more about himself than about the game.

  48. I’d love to be sick an tired of a Packer wide receiver who posted 4163 yards, 14.4 yds/rec and 42 tds as an All-Pro 3 consecutive years!

    (T.O.’s 49er numbers before they ‘couldn’t wait to get rid of him’)

  49. I think it comes down to whether it’s appropriate for HOF voters to vote on the fundamental question- not just about stats – but did this individual’s presence on a team improve the team or hurt it?
    ===

    Simpler than that;

    Rings.

    If you have one, you’re in.

  50. Kenny Easley – too short a career 81-87, good player, nothing special
    ===

    My ass!

    He was every bit as good as Ronnie Lott.

    DPOY in 1984

    1980s All-decade team.

    Had his career cut short by irresponsible medical practices.

  51. .. and Easley was voted in by the Veterans Committee. He didn’t steal anyone elses place in line.

    I think the same should have been done with T.D., but I also think he’s worthy given his complete domination in his prime.

    Other than Walter Payton and Barry Sanders, he was as great as any other back I’ve seen in my lifetime.

  52. Bottom line. Being a professional is doing your job regarding of any external circumstances. The HOF voters are not being professional. And those of you that are accepting or justifying it are dead wrong. Imagine if referees didn’t act professionally. “I’ll throw this flag on this player because he didn’t sign an autograph for my cousin last year!” Etc… etc…If you are a professional, you do your job! Point blank period. That goes for cops, lawyers, athletes and HOF voters.

  53. His numbers are great but what Florio just described is purposely slanted to try to validate his own opinion that T.O. should have been voted into the HoF. It is not as objective as he tries to imply.

    I agree that off-field stuff should not have a big impact but I do believe it should have some impact. Owens caused problems everywhere he went. That fact cannot be questioned. What the writer is arguing is not that Owens behavior was good but rather how much of his poor behavior the teams seemed to tolerate. He routinely put himself above his teammates, teams and the league. He was more about promoting himself than he was at helping his team win. The garbage he did on the field in Dallas was reprehensible.

    The bottom line for me is this…

    Owens has the numbers that are worthy of enshrinement but his antics tarnished the game, divided his teammates and brought discredit on himself. Those actions ought to cancel out or at least lessen some of his accomplishments to the point that there is the debate we have now. I think he gets in but it is certainly not the slam dunk case some people claim.

  54. I think it comes down to whether it’s appropriate for HOF voters to vote on the fundamental question- not just about stats – but did this individual’s presence on a team improve the team or hurt it?
    ===

    Simpler than that;

    Rings.

    If you have one, you’re in.
    ——————————–
    So you’re suggesting that Barry Sanders shouldn’t be a HOFer?? Please quit while you’re behind.

  55. Owens being shipped to the Eagles under a seven-year, $42 million contract with a $10 million signing bonus.

    Due to earn a base salary of $7.5 million in 2005 and looking for a more significant financial reward for his efforts in 2004, Owens asked for a raise.

    This is why players seeking a big payday shouldn’t be signing such long term contracts. They think they’re getting security and are all goggle eyed over the large numbers of the contract. However, contracts in the NFL aren’t guaranteed. Their egos can’t stand that the next guy will get a bigger contract not understanding that the market in the NFL has increased every year with higher salary caps.

    Players of a certain elite status should only be signing short term contracts. That way they can re-negotiate every few years. Rarely do large contracts go the full terms without some sort of negotiation from the player or the team.

  56. The hof has already shown personality and off-field activities can get you IN (Tony Dungy). Not sure why people are so surprised that it can also keep you out.

    TO is a first ballot hall of famer. He should unequivocally get in his 2nd time and to have to keep waiting cheapens the hall of fame. But people shouldn’t be surprised some of the same people he spurned over the years are the same one who don’t want him in.

  57. He should be in the HOF, but so many different teams over the years sure puts a RED FLAG as to how much he was liked.

    Reminds me of Larry Brown and Bill Parcells, great coaches and HOF’ers, but by switching teams so often it puts a little asterisk (*) by their accomplishments.

    Still, HOF has nothing to do with whether or not you’re liked.

  58. Look, I have said it a few times now on this site.

    Was TO a great player when the plays were taking place? Absolutely. He was as physically gifted and as great of a WR as we have really seen in the the NFL.

    Was TO an complete jerk? Absolutely, he was as big of a jerk as we have ever seen in the NFL.

    Are there lots of guys that were great great players during games and total jerks away from games that are in the hall of fame in ALL pro sports? Absolutely. You can look at all time greats like L.T., Ray Lewis, ETC. Hell, M.J. was known as being one of the hugest jerks ever off the court and it certainly didn’t keep him out of the NBA hall of fame.

    The difference is that T.O. wasn’t just an unpleasant person away from the field. He was cancer everywhere he went- in the locker room, off the field, on the sidelines, in the press room,and basically anytime the offense was on the field and he wasn’t getting the ball enough to his liking even if the team was winning.

    He constantly threw teammates under the bus and ripped them apart in the media which directly affected team unity , cohesion, and caused internal and external conflict every where he went. His sideline / in game behavior caused issues during games between team mates and coaches which directly cost his team on the field as it just simply caused things to not run as smooth as they should have, and he hurt his team multiple times with stupid, totally avoidable,” look at me” penalties.

    His actions went above just having a bad personality and crossed into having tangible negative effects on his team in multiple areas.

    And honestly,the fact that he is making comments about not getting in totally kind of sum it up -Everyone including T.O know that he’s getting in eventually, but he’s complaining it’s not fast enough.

    Do I think that TO gets in eventually? Yes, and he should.
    But I also think it’s appropriate that he takes a back seat for a few years as it’s quite simply a result of his actions. I know sports aren’t real life,but your actions have consequences and you reap what you sew.

  59. Rings.

    If you have one, you’re in.
    ——————————–
    So you’re suggesting that Barry Sanders shouldn’t be a HOFer?? Please quit while you’re behind.
    ===

    I’m not suggesting anything, personally.

    I’m saying the voters put an undue amount of merit into players that played on TEAMS that won Super Bowls.

  60. Reminds me of Larry Brown and Bill Parcells, great coaches and HOF’ers, but by switching teams so often it puts a little asterisk (*) by their accomplishments.
    ===

    I think Parcells is in beacuse of what he did with multiple teams.

    2 Super Bowls with the Giants, 1 in New England, and he nearly got a 4th with the Jets.

    He also did a nice job turning Dallas around.

  61. Those defending the enshrinement of players with off the field issues have always said the hall is about the on the field stuff. Sounds like a few petty media guys who got their feelings hurt now want to get back at him. Pathetic and hypocritical. More proof that many in the media can dish it out but cannot take it. The fact that many think TO is a turd should have nothing to do with it. The hall is full of bad character turds (see Lawrence Taylor and OJ). Maybe TO would have been better off being a drug addict and committing armed robbery. The media wouldn’t let that keep him out of the hall.

  62. “302EaglesFan says:

    The HOF should be for team guys who youd want your child to look up to”

    That’s not a criteria for the HoF. Never has been.

  63. I actually agree with most of this article, but you are really beating a dead horse with the Irvin incident. Irvin wasn’t bad for a locker room, he was the emotional leader and made sure you worked hard, that guy he stabbed was a slacker just there for a paycheck.

  64. For teams to justify losing one of the greatest receivers of his generation to their fans, they created the narrative that they couldn’t wait to get rid of him. They laid the groundwork with their media buddies when the handwriting was on the wall and now, the lies having been repeated often enough, it’s become reality.

    What TO did in the Super Bowl was nothing short of amazing given his physical condition at the time. Between the lines he was a fierce competitor who made plays few others in the history of the sport could make. Unfortunately he had some issues that made his talent come at a high price. I always say it’s like the Sharon Stone character in the movie Casino. She brought Ace unimaginable joy and pain.

  65. I think he should be in just for the time he did the Ray Lewis dance after scoring a TD. It was awesome to watch one ass clown impersonate another ass clown.

  66. gorilladunk ,

    And T.O. was better than him. I know, hard to believe. Isaac Bruce should be in too. It’s ironic because both of these guys’ personalities are being held against them for different reasons.

  67. T.O. deserved to be a 1st round HOF inductee. The NFL needs to rid of whatever fool thinks otherwise.

    I know he only spent 1 season in Buffalo, but his time here was well worth the 6 million dollar contract. Owens didn’t just bring a big name wherever he went, he brought a big game too. The saying “Get your popcorn” was true… It wasn’t just a bunch of hype. I could see the reason why he was liked by so many and at the same time the reason why many hated him… T.O. is one of a few players that, as they say “put asses in seats”… the NFL owes some of it’s success and popularity to guys like him.

  68. “Was TO an complete jerk? Absolutely, he was as big of a jerk as we have ever seen in the NFL.”

    Oh, yes. Owens was as big a jerk as O.J. Simpson. And every other criminal in the game. He’s as big a jerk as Donovan “2-time DUI” McNabb.

    You’re a smart one.

    “The difference is that T.O. wasn’t just an unpleasant person away from the field. He was cancer everywhere he went- in the locker room, off the field, on the sidelines, in the press room,and basically anytime the offense was on the field and he wasn’t getting the ball enough to his liking even if the team was winning.”

    No, he wasn’t. No he wasn’t. No he wasn’t. No he wasn’t.

    Owens was a team player. This isn’t just me saying this, this is what his ACTUAL TEAMMATES say. Look it up.

    “He constantly threw teammates under the bus and ripped them apart in the media”

    No, he did not. Owens has never ripped a teammate in the media in his entire career.

    “which directly affected team unity , cohesion, and caused internal and external conflict every where he went.”

    You literally just made this up. You just pulled this out of your rear end. Unbelievable.

    “His sideline / in game behavior caused issues during games between team mates and coaches which directly cost his team on the field as it just simply caused things to not run as smooth as they should have,”

    Name me one play in a game Owens played where these make believe “issues” you pretend he created affected what happened.

    Again, you’re just talking out of your rear end, and it’s ridiculous that you can’t see it.

    “and he hurt his team multiple times with stupid, totally avoidable,” look at me” penalties.”

    Like what? The NFL’s stupid touchdown celebration rules, which kept changing every year?

    What hurts the team more…an “excessive celebration” penalty, or a ridiculous interception from 1st ballot HOFer Brett Favre?

    “His actions went above just having a bad personality and crossed into having tangible negative effects on his team in multiple areas.”

    Except they didn’t. You just made that up. You can’t prove even one instance of this.

    “And honestly,the fact that he is making comments about not getting in totally kind of sum it up -Everyone including T.O know that he’s getting in eventually, but he’s complaining it’s not fast enough.”

    What do you mean “everyone…know[s]?” Based on WHAT? There are people in the room who have gone on record saying they will NEVER vote for him. His chances of making the HOF at all are slim to none.

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