[Editor’s note: Earlier this week, Gary Myers of the New York Daily News contacted me via email to explain his case against putting Terrell Owens in the Hall of Fame. We exchanged several messages on the topic, and I eventually asked Myers whether his views are “on the record.” He said that they were not, but he offered to summarize his position with an express invitation to use any, some, or all of it. In fairness to Gary, I have decided to post his entire approved message below. Subsequent PFT posts may use portions of his message.]
I’ve been reading your posts on the Hall of Fame and the controversy over Terrell Owens not getting elected again this year. Just want you to know I would have absolutely no problem revealing my ballot. I believe in full transparency. Nothing to hide. I usually publish my vote in the Daily News.
I know you don’t agree with the statement I made a year ago on Dan Patrick’s radio show (Ross Tucker was hosting that day) that teams could not wait to get rid of T.O. Once he became a problem or cancer in the locker room, I think it’s clear they could not wait to dump him. It just took longer in S.F. than Philly or Dallas.
I did vote for Owens in the cut from 15 to 10 two years in a row but honestly had not made up my mind if I would vote for him either year if he had made the cut to five. Unfortunately for him, he was eliminated each year in the cut to 10.
There are some very smart journalists in that meeting room. I can only speak for myself: I have opinions. I don’t have an agenda. I’ve been covering the NFL since 1978, longer than just about anybody in the room except maybe four or five people out of the 46 media members. This year, HOFers Dan Fouts and James Lofton were added, increasing the number of voters to 48.
I think I know what a Hall of Famer looks like. T.O. will be in the Hall of Fame. Just because he didn’t get into the HOF the first or second year doesn’t mean the process needs to be overhauled. Michael Irvin didn’t get in the HOF until his third year and I could easily make a case he was a better player than T.O. For sure, if I had a choice of having one of them on my team, I would take Irvin. Not even close in my mind.
Owens signed a seven-year deal with the Eagles after he was acquired from the 49ers. In his second training camp with the Eagles, he wanted a new contract and became a tremendous pain and blew up the defending NFC champs. He had played one year of a seven-year contract. I know contracts are one-way in the NFL, but even for Owens, that was a bit much, complaining just 14% of the way through the deal for a team he wanted to play for and in a city that embraced him.
First, he was such a problem he got thrown out of camp by Andy Reid and later in the season, he was thrown off the team. The Eagles finished in last place with a 6-10 record. I know a lot is made of his courageous Super Bowl game and it was pretty amazing. But the Eagles won two playoff games without him to get to the Super Bowl that year and then lost the Super Bowl with him.
As far as the comparison to Irvin, just as far as their playing ability, Irvin played on three Super Bowl championship teams. He was a leader and a winner. He had much better hands. Owens dropped an awful lot of passes. Irvin imposed his will on games while Owens was carrying a Sharpie in his sock and eating popcorn with the cheerleaders.
I was not on the committee when Irvin was a candidate, but my guess is his off the field problems are why it took him three years to get in, although the mandate from the HOF is not to consider issues away from the field like arrests and drug use. In the case of Owens and others who were considered distractions, the locker room is considered an extension of the field.
All that being said, I think Owens is a HOFer. There’s some great players who had to exhibit patience before they were elected. In my opinion, the case for Owens being a first or second ballot HOFer would have been strengthened if he played on a Super Bowl championship team.
I know the voting process has become an issue you are passionate about. I would really suggest you contact Joe Horrigan at the HOF and ask to be added to the committee when there is an opening. You would be a valuable voice in the room.