A year ago, when Terrell Owens wasn’t voted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, controversy erupted. As our Will Brinson wrote at the time, it was “a little ridiculous for Owens not to be in the Hall of Fame right away” considering he’s ranked near the top in every receiving category.
So, imagine the controversy when Owens didn’t get enough votes -- again -- to be inducted this year.
The backlash has been substantial. Owens called it a “flawed process” in the aftermath. And he hasn’t slowed down since, saying in the past week alone that he “lost all respect” for the process and that he’s better than Hall of Famer Cris Carter.
If Owens is looking for answers, he might find them here. One Hall of Fame voter, Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, explained the case against Owens with a written statement that was published by Pro Football Talk on Saturday.
Before we get to Myers’ reasoning -- and before everyone yells at him on Twitter -- it’s important to note that Myers directly said, “I think Owens is a HOFer.” He also revealed that he voted for Owens in the early stages when they were cutting the list of 15 finalists to 10, but he wasn’t sure if we would vote for him to become one of the five inductees in either year had he made it to the final 10. Owens never made it that far, so Myers never had to make up his mind.
The point is, Myers believes Owens deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Don’t forget that once Myers starts making his case against Owens.
OK, now let’s get to his explanation of why Owens got snubbed. Here are a few samples.
1. Myers on taking Michael Irvin over Owens:
Michael Irvin didn’t get in the HOF until his third year and I could easily make a case he was a better player than T.O. For sure, if I had a choice of having one of them on my team, I would take Irvin. Not even close in my mind.
2. Myers on Owens’ issues with the Eagles:
Owens signed a seven-year deal with the Eagles after he was acquired from the 49ers. In his second training camp with the Eagles, he wanted a new contract and became a tremendous pain and blew up the defending NFC champs. He had played one year of a seven-year contract. I know contracts are one-way in the NFL, but even for Owens, that was a bit much, complaining just 14 percent of the way through the deal for a team he wanted to play for and in a city that embraced him.
First, he was such a problem he got thrown out of camp by Andy Reid and later in the season, he was thrown off the team. The Eagles finished in last place with a 6-10 record. I know a lot is made of his courageous Super Bowl game and it was pretty amazing. But the Eagles won two playoff games without him to get to the Super Bowl that year and then lost the Super Bowl with him.
3. Myers on Owens’ drop issues:
As far as the comparison to Irvin, just as far as their playing ability, Irvin played on three Super Bowl championship teams. He was a leader and a winner. He had much better hands. Owens dropped an awful lot of passes. Irvin imposed his will on games while Owens was carrying a Sharpie in his sock and eating popcorn with the cheerleaders.
4. Myers on the locker room being a part of the field:
I was not on the committee when Irvin was a candidate, but my guess is his off the field problems are why it took him three years to get in, although the mandate from the HOF is not to consider issues away from the field like arrests and drug use. In the case of Owens and others who were considered distractions, the locker room is considered an extension of the field.
Myers concluded by saying that he thinks Owens belongs in the Hall of Fame and that he would’ve stood a better chance if he had won a Super Bowl. OK, now let’s break down his claims.
His first argument against Owens is that Irvin was better than Owens and it took Irvin three years to get into the Hall of Fame. That’s not exactly true, because Irvin wasn’t a better receiver than Owens.
Take a look at their career numbers, including postseason play:
Not even close.
Myers’ second point is about Owens’ rocky time spent with the Eagles. I won’t try to defend Owens’ antics away from the field -- there’s probably a reason why a receiver of his caliber played for so many teams in his career -- but I will defend his performance in the Eagles’ Super Bowl loss to the Patriots in February 2005.
Here’s how Joel Greenberg of the Los Angeles Times described the injury Owens was dealing with at the time:
Owens’ decision to play despite his own doctor’s advice carries the “potential for shortening his lifespan in the NFL if he causes further damage to his ankle,” said [Dr. Neal] ElAttrache, a member of the NFL Physicians Society and a consultant to the Denver Broncos and the St. Louis Rams. ElAttrache says he believes that Owens is at least six weeks away from being able to play football without risking serious re-injury.
Owens underwent surgery Dec. 22 after severely spraining ankle ligaments and fracturing the fibula bone in his right leg. In addition, he ripped a sheet of tissue called the inter-osseous membrane that connects the fibula to the larger tibia bone that runs alongside it from the foot to the knee.
He caught nine passes for 122 yards. That performance is not something to gloss over. The Eagles did not lose because Owens returned.
Myers’ third point is that Owens dropped a lot of passes. So what? Plenty of great receivers drop passes. I would say Owens more than made up for any drop issues by putting up some of the best numbers in NFL history.
His final point is Owens’ locker-room issues were considered because the locker room is “an extension of the field.” I’m not really sure why that’s the case -- the locker room is definitely not on the field -- but I’m not here to argue about Owens’ issues away from the field considering I only watched him play on the field. I have no idea what the majority of Owens’ teammates think of him.
Despite our disagreements, kudos to Myers for explaining why Owens got snubbed. And, as I pointed out earlier, remember that Myers said that he thinks Owens belongs in the Hall of Fame.
For the record, if it wasn’t already clear, I believe Owens should’ve been voted in a year ago. For me, it’s simple: Owens ranks eighth all time in receptions, second in receiving yards, and third in receiving touchdowns. He’s one of the greatest receivers in NFL history -- that’s my argument.