Terrell Owens is probably not a role model. He might not even be a good human being. He missed child support payments, some of his teammates hated him, coaches didn’t like him, which might not always matter but the trend across numerous teams was probably more than a coincidence.
But damn could he play football and damn could he entertain while doing it. 2nd most receiving yards all-time behind the great Jerry Rice, 3rd all-time in receiving touchdowns behind only Rice and Randy Moss, and 6th all-time in receptions. Throw in the fact that he led league three times in receiving TDs, he was a 6-time pro bowler and 5-time All Pro player, it’s safe to say he is among the best receivers ever to play in the NFL.
Owens was so good that not only is he the only receiver to score against all 32 teams in the NFL, he’s done it at least twice against each team. Oh and did he do it in style.
Anyone that is a casual fan will remember his catch as a 49er in Cowboy stadium in 2000 when he ran and celebrated at the 50 yard line on the Cowboy star to rub a little salt in the wound of a bitter rival. It got under the Cowboys skin so much he did it again later that game. Insanity and hilarity ensues.
From there he revolutionized the TD celebration that included pulling out a sharpie to sign a football, doing sit ups, grabbing cheerleader pom poms, and pretending to sleep on the ball after a TD in response to the media claiming he went to sleep the week before.
He pissed off purists in the process and expedited the NFL’s journey to becoming the No Fun League. But that didn’t stop T.O. Give him a penalty for “excessive celebration” or “taunting”. T.O. didn’t stop being T.O. and I for one loved it.
If you can put your money where your mouth is then by all means rub it in. This is professional sports not rec league flag football. These guys get paid millions and if they can’t handle a guy celebrating after a TD then that’s their problem.
There is probably a bigger issue on celebrations, penalties, and the NFL’s inherent biases against athletes of a certain colour that we could get into but this blog is about another issue. The MNF commercial incident is another story too.
T.O. has always been under greater scrutiny than most because he is a “personality”. But the guy put it all on the field, gave his body up for a sport he loved, and wanted to win so bad he lived in a hyperbaric chamber so he could overcome a cracked fibula to play in the Super Bowl. A few years later he risked permanent injury to his fingers by avoiding doctor recommended surgery and almost overdosed on painkillers in the process to keep playing. Questions would be raised if he was depressed and suicidal though he stated he just wanted to play.
So a guy that is among the top 3 to 5 receivers of all time, played the game hard, played to win, and entertained fans on the process must be a no brainer first ballot hall of famer right???
Wrong. Last year, T.O was passed over by the 48-man selection committee. Brett Favre, Tony Dungy, Kevin Greene, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Ken Stabler and Dick Stanfel were all deemed better candidates.
So today was the day right? After a first year snub there was no way they would pass him over this time. Boy was I wrong.
LaDainian Tomlinson, Kurt Warner, Terrell Davis, Kenny Easley, Jason Taylor, Morten Andersen and Jerry Jones made it… But still no T.O.
Now I don’t have good arguments about any of the above not being in the Hall but I sure as shit have a good case that T.O. should be in over a number of these guys.
So why the snub again?
I actually shouldn’t be surprised as this has been a trend in sports Hall of Fame selections for some time.
The Hall of Fame selection committee is made up from a media report from each NFL city (NY gets two) and 16 at large media reps. This is a smaller but not to dissimilar process than Major League Baseball. Instead of having a mix of current former players, coaches, owners etc we leave it all up to the sportswriters.
Not saying sportswriters aren’t talented and know their sports but the process makes the Academy look like the hallmark of diversity. Let’s face it, the media is also increasingly becoming political. Voters for the Hall are now working “character” criteria into their selection process. So this means great players might not make the Hall because the media might not like them or their politics or the fact that they didn’t pay child support.
Listen, if we are going to judge Hall criteria on character, we are going to have to remove a lot of former athletes. Guys like Ty Cobb in baseball who was a bigot and an abuser off the field and an asshole on it. Or OJ Simpson from the NFL…
But are we giving out Medals of Honour or recognizing the greatest players to play the game?
Well apparently it is both now. Listen, when Curt Schilling tweets “Rope, Tree, Journalist. Some assembly required” it makes him a world class asshole. I can also see why it pisses off journalists. You know, the same one’s that decide whether he goes into the Hall. But does it diminish his on field credentials? It shouldn’t yet it clearly has diminished his chances at the Hall, dropping significantly in Hall voting since the tweet.
Now back to T.O. He certainly didn’t “act” like the way the media thinks an NFL’er should act and quite frankly his relationship with them was shit. He didn’t come from a small town in Nebraska, didn’t stay tight lipped about struggling teammates, didn’t say all the right things in post game interviews, and didn’t do all the front and centre charity events that some in the media salivate over. That’s not who T.O. is.
But can you find me one solid on field reason he shouldn’t be a Hall of Famer? Only one I’ve heard is he didn’t win a Super Bowl but we all know other greats didn’t either and had no problem getting in including many on the ballot the last two years.
Quite simply he is not a Hall of Famer because the media doesn’t want him there. He doesn’t conform to their ideal player and these self-absorbed assholes with a grudge are tainting the Hall.
If the media continue to weild this kind of control over the process than the Hall doesn’t deserve T.O.
In 2004 TO was featured in a Hank Williams Thomas art feature entitled “Ain’t no way I’m go’n in back ta’work fa’massa in dat darn field”. It’s an appropriate title for this instance where the media wants T.O. to atone for his off field antics but T.O. doesn’t need to go back to work for any master to be a Hall of Famer in my books.