Terrell Owens is not in Canton this weekend as he officially becomes a Pro Football Hall of Famer, a decision he says he won’t second guess.
Owens told Vaughn McClure of ESPN that he has his own reasons for having his own private Hall of Fame induction event away from the ceremonies in Canton.
“I understand why I made my decision,” Owens said. “I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. But again, obviously the criteria and the system put in place for the Hall of Fame in order for guys like myself to be inducted, there are guidelines that the writers, the sportswriters, are supposed to adhere to. It’s not, not being inducted the first or second ballot, but it’s about the process in which guys are nominated and ultimately inducted. There’s a flaw in that system. So this is not only about me, but it’s about the guys that went before me, that’s going to come after me. And I can make a stand for those guys so they won’t have to go through this situation.”
There may be flaws in the process of picking Hall of Famers, but if that’s the case, what better place for Owens to make his case than at the induction event? Why not attend the ceremony and include some thoughts about the process in his enshrinement speech?
Other Hall of Famers have used the enshrinement event to speak out about players they felt were snubbed. When former Steeler Lynn Swann was enshrined in 2001, he used the opportunity to press the case that his old teammate John Stallworth belonged in the Hall of Fame as well.
“This is the single greatest honor in my life,” Swann said in his speech. “The single greatest honor of my life. And, if this is the greatest hour of my life, then I would tell you at this moment, this is only a half-hour. It’ll be the greatest hour when I can stand and sit in that back row and John Stallworth is wearing a gold jacket making this speech.”
Sure enough, the voters put Stallworth in the Hall of Fame the next year. Perhaps if Owens were in Canton, he could talk in his speech about what he thinks the voters have missed in the past, and what they should consider in the future. Perhaps some of the players Owens thinks have been overlooked would get into Canton with a nudge from Owens.
But that won’t happen. Owens will be in Chattanooga, Tennessee, making a speech with no Hall of Fame voters present. He may think he’s making a statement, but that statement will fall on deaf ears.