ProFootballTalk

T.O.: “Mind boggling” to not be in Hall of Fame

In two days, the folks who determine the new class of Hall of Famers will get together to sift through the current class of finalists. For the third time, two of the best three receivers in NFL history will be up for consideration.

During a Wednesday visit to PFT Live, Terrell Owens explained his thoughts on being snubbed two times, and possibly counting.

“It is what it is,” Owens said. “I’ve kind of moved on from it. I think in terms of really the reputation [and] the credibility of the Hall of Fame I think it’s doing itself a disservice to what it actually means. . . . I think I should’ve been a shoo-in based on my statistics. I’ve said all along my stats speak for itself. I think when you bring up character issues, there’s a number of people that you can put in that category. It’s mind boggling to me.”

The biggest knock on Owens has nothing to do with off-field behavior.

“What I’ve heard is I’m divisive in the locker room,” he said. “Half the locker room liked me, half didn’t. Why couldn’t you go with the other narrative that I was a great teammate based on the people that spoke out on my behalf?”

The problem with the broader process is that the line between what should and shouldn’t be considered has blurred considerably, allowing it to be twisted in whatever direction the voters want to twist it. The false narrative that emerged last year, and that likely will come up again this year, is that teams “couldn’t wait to get rid” of Owens.

Meanwhile. . . .

“Ray Lewis,” Owens said. “He’s a guy that’s up for the Hall of Fame. You think about some of his off the field issues that may come into play [that] nobody’s talking about. But they feel like he’s a shoo-in.”

Owens admits that he was outspoken, but he’s confounded that it’s a knock against him.

When has being outspoken been a bad thing?” Owens said. “Now you see with so many social issues that are surrounding us. Guys are speaking up, speaking their mind. I think I was sort of at the forefront of that. Just being open and being open and honest about certain situations.” 

Owens was willing to be outspoken about the possibility of fellow receiver Randy Moss gaining admission to the Hall of Fame before Owens.

“It’s just really gonna put a black eye on the Hall of Fame and what it stands for,” Owens said. “I’ve been up the last two years. This is the third time. I think again what they’ve been, the issues they’ve been bringing up as far as why I haven’t gotten in doesn’t really match with the bylaws and the criteria in which guys are nominated and then inducted. . . . It just does the Hall of Fame a disservice. The Hall of Fame committee who puts these guys in position to nominate and then induct them it’s just not good for the game.”

Some have suggested that T.O.’s willingness to rip the process will work against him by giving the voters another reason to keep him out, even though anything he says now shouldn’t be held against his playing career. If that’s indeed a consideration (and it shouldn’t be), Owens didn’t shy away from firing shots at the current selection process.

“I think they need to just change it up,” Owens said. “At least have people on the panel with some credibility. Why are you going to allow guys that have never even played the sport have your fate at their hands?”

While there’s definitely a place for people who didn’t play football to assess and select the best football players of all time, the people who have failed to put Owens in the Hall of Fame will get another chance to make it right on Saturday. If he’s omitted again, the criticism from him and other (like me) will only grow.