At a time when I had hoped the flow of Terrell Owens stories regarding his latest snub from the Hall of Fame had ended, some of those who should want the fire to die down continue to throw logs on it.
Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, who would take Michael Irvin over Owens and who also downplayed T.O.’s performance in Super Bowl XXXIX, shares a story regarding the gold jacket Owens previously said he ordered for himself.
Citing a Hall of Famer who for some reason insisted on anonymity (at least Bill Polian has the balls to put his name to his criticism of Owens), Myers writes that Owens told the unnamed Hall of Famer that Owens had his career statistics placed on the back of the jacket. The unnamed Hall of Famer, who scoffed at the gesture, had some advice for Owens.
“I told him he is dividing the selection committee just like he divided locker rooms,” the unnamed Hall of Famer said. “I told him to be quiet, let the process work and he will get in.”
Myers then followed the quote with a Dan Fouts-style warning that Owens is hurting himself by having the audacity to complain that he has been snubbed.
“Owens is not going about this the right way,” Myers writes. “The more he criticizes the process, or says it’s no longer important to him, the harder he makes it for himself. Just like he alienated his quarterbacks, particularly Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo, the anti-T.O. voters are becoming even more entrenched in their position by Owens’ insults and the insults of the non-voters in the media who are campaigning for his election.”
That’s a stunning admission from Myers, which serves only to underscore legitimate concerns about the validity of the process. If Myers or any other voter genuinely will become more entrenched in the opposition to Owens because people like Owens, me, or anyone else is willing to express a belief that his performance should have gotten him in the Hall of Fame by now, those voters are unfit to serve on the selection committee and should resign. If they don’t resign, the Hall of Fame should drop them.
Think for a moment about what Myers is suggesting. Essentially, he’s saying that Owens’ refusal to sit down and shut up will make it harder for Owens to get in. (Meanwhile, the bust of a double murderer remains in Canton, in plain view for every mother or father to explain to every daughter or son who visits a museum whose curators are taking themselves way, way, way too seriously.)
Beyond admitting that Myers will consider factors wholly unrelated to Owens’ on-field performance, Myers has offered a healthy dose of get-off-my-lawn condescension for the younger folks in the media who believe that T.O. is a no-brainer Hall of Famer.
“Many of the outspoken pro-T.O.ers in the media not on the HOF committee have covered the NFL for only a handful of years and lack the perspective to be able to identify what makes a Hall of Famer,” Myers writes. “Many of them were not even covering the NFL when Owens was playing and come off like callers to sports talk shows. I have been covering the NFL since 1978 and can at least compare Owens to Michael Irvin, who gained election on his third try and was a better player than T.O., and Drew Pearson, one of the best and most clutch receivers in his generation. Pearson is not in the HOF. Comparing Owens’ numbers to Pearson’s is not fair. It was a different game then when receiving stats were not bloated. But given the choice, I would take Pearson over Owens. Easy decision.”
That’s a slippery slope onto which Myers has stepped, inviting full scrutiny of every current and future member of the Hall of Fame selection committee who may lack the same credentials, experience, and insight that Myers believes must be possessed before a reliable opinion can be formed regarding who should and shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame. Also, the we-know-more-than-the-rest-of-you attitude expressed by Myers will do little to get the fans and non-voting media to sit down and shut up.
If anything, the clumsy, thin-skinned pushback against those who dare question the process will make those with concerns about the process stand taller and speak louder, as to Owens and anyone else who gets snubbed in the future.