During his playing time, few players were able to match the talent level of Terrell Owens.
Drafted in the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, Owens enjoyed a litany of success in the NFL. He finished his career with nine 15,934 yards, 1,078 receptions and 153 touchdowns. T.O. totaled nine 1,000-yard seasons in his career, and finished with double-digit touchdowns eight times.
He was a five-time first-team All-Pro, and a six-time Pro-Bowler. Owens currently ranks third all-time for touchdown receptions, second in receiving yards and eighth in receptions. Owens also, now famously, played on a broken leg in Super Bowl XXXIX.
There were periods of time when Owens was arguably the very best receiver in the entire NFL. He was big, fast and physical, and he had all of the intangibles, too.
And if there were few receivers who could match Owens’ ability as a receiver, there were even fewer who could match his personality and sheer volume of charisma. Owens brought a ubiquitous flair to the game of football that was much-needed.
Some of his antics were fun, like when he pulled a pen out of his sock and autographed a football post-touchdown. And some of his antics were cocky, like when he raced to center field of Cowboys Stadium to celebrate a touchdown. Regardless of whether Owens’ behavior was fun or unsportsmanlike, one thing was clear: it was must-see television whenever he was on your screen.
The only other receiver who could even be considered in the same stratosphere as Owens was Chad Johnson.
This was the first year Owens was eligible to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. To the surprise of many, the voters snubbed Owens, forcing him to wait at least another year to hear his name called. Many believe, and are probably justified in believing, that Owens was snubbed because of his character issues.
He was not exactly the nicest player in terms of media coverage. Owens’ drama caused him to bounce around, playing for five separate teams during his career. In addition to the 49ers, Owens played with the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.
While Owens’ character can certainly be questioned, that should not have prevented him from being named part of this year’s Hall of Fame class. Allowing personal bias to affect a decision dilutes the importance of the Hall of Fame voting, especially if the personal bias spawns from hurt feelings.
If people are serious about not letting Owens in, they should look more closely at his tremendous resume. I understand players have to wait, which is why it took Marvin Harrison until his third try to get elected into the HOF. But if Owens waits longer than Harrison, who legitimately killed someone, the entire voting process will be rendered completely biased.
NFL.com’s Adam Schien put it perfectly when he said, “until Owens has a bust in Canton, there’s an asterisk on the Hall of Fame.”