Hey, T.O. It’s OK to be mad but you should show up for your Hall of Fame induction.
Please don’t deprive us of what would have been the most self-involved acceptance speech since Michael Jordan called out Bryon Russell, his three kids and the high school basketball coach who left him off the varsity as a 10th grader.
Terrell Owens not showing up in Canton, Ohio to be officially inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is quite possibly the most Terrell Owens thing ever. Unpredictable, inexplicable and just plain unprecedented.
Owens said Tuesday he would be giving his induction speech hours before the NFL’s telecast at his alma mater the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga after announcing earlier this year that he would not be attending the Aug. 4 ceremony.
The man who terrorized NFL cornerbacks over a career that placed him in the same statistical stratosphere as the G.O.A.T Jerry Rice and Randy Moss, rarely dodged television cameras in his heyday, from grabbing a cheerleader’s pom poms after a touchdown in San Francisco to taunting the Dallas Cowboys on the midfield star at old Texas Stadium to doing shirtless sit ups during a suspension at Philadelphia.
“After giving it much thought, I have realized just how much I want to celebrate what will inevitably be the best weekend of my life at a place that means so much to me,” he said in a statement.
We get that Owens is upset about being passed over for induction on his first two attempts despite numbers — 1,078 receptions for 15,934 yards and 153 receiving touchdowns — that scream first ballot. He was a notoriously combustible locker room presence at times and didn’t hold his tongue his tongue in criticizing the board of selectors when he didn’t get in 2016 and 2017. It was all part of the T.O. package. I have friends and colleagues on the selection committee and that organization whiffed twice on this one before predictably getting it right the third time.
While I agree that he should have made it in on the first try despite a well-earned reputation as a troublemaker, Owens is completely in his rights to stay away though I would have loved to have seen the spectacle of a T.O. Hall of Fame speech in front of all those gold jackets. It would have been great theater, sort of like Dennis Rodman’s without the humility.
Only Owens can fully determine why he would want to pull a no-show on a day when he would join fellow receiving greats like Rice, Moss, Michael Irvin, Cris Carter, Lynn Swann and Steve Largent in the Hall in person. It’s his decision but does blowing off the Hall send a message of pettiness to the football public and bring back all those mishaps that typified his 15 seasons with five teams?
Of the aforementioned greats, Irvin has the worst relationship with Owens. Irvin, an NFL Network analyst who maintains close ties to the Dallas Cowboys, blasted Owens earlier this year when he announced his intention to skip the ceremony.
“It’s not about the voters,” Irvin said on the NFL Network. “Don’t give the voters the pleasure of knowing that they meant that much to you that when you finally got in, you’re not even showing up. And the whole while you campaigned about being in.”
The Playmaker also spoke about the time he shot a commercial with Owens after his initial snub.
“He came to the commercial with a Hall of Fame gold jacket with all of his records on it,” Irvin said. “So you went and made a made-up gold jacket , but you won’t show up to get the real gold jacket? It’s something beyond my capabilities of understanding up here.”
Owens popped back on Twitter. In a tweet directed at Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports, he called the writer/host and Irvin “Uncle Tommers” and followed up the slur by referring to Irvin as a “once cokehead” in another tweet.
If he’s really thinking, he will figure out a way to market this thing since it’s well documented that he blew threw $80 million in career earnings.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported my celebration decision,” he said in the statement. “I look forward to seeing you all in Chattanooga. Getcha popcorn ready!”
The popcorn line will be much longer in Canton.