Terrell Owens finally reveals reason for decision to skip Hall of Fame ceremony

One of the most surprising football-related decisions of the offseason came back in June when Terrell Owens announced that he wouldn't be attending the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony, making him the first living inductee not to attend. 

Not only was the announcement surprising, but it also came with some mystery, because Owens never really explained why he felt the need to skip out on the event. With the ceremony now right around the corner -- it's scheduled for Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio -- Owens finally offered some details on his decision to no-show and it appears there were multiple reasons. 

Basically, it seems that the decision came down to disrespect: Owens didn't like the way the media portrayed him during his career and he didn't like the fact that voters made him wait three years to be inducted. 

"What I will say is that my character is something that I will always defend," Owens said in a recent interview with TMZ. "That's what happened the first two times around with the Hall of Fame. When you got the media -- over the course of my career -- that habitually told lies and obviously, the media and everybody else, even the writers, that really started to factor in the character issues, that's what it's mostly about."

Owens also added that he would've attended the ceremony if he had been inducted on the first ballot back in 2016.

"Had I been inducted initially, then yeah," Owens said. "Then the second time came around and it didn't happen."

When the first-ballot induction didn't happen, Owens began to believe that voters were considering other factors with his induction and not just his play on the field. 

"In terms of the criteria, the bylaws and what it takes for a guy to get in -- when it came to me, other things came into play and for me, that doesn't bode well for me," Owens said.

Owens retired with the second most receiving yards in NFL history and the third most receiving touchdowns. T.O. also finished his career eighth on the all-time receptions list after a 15-year career that saw him play for the 49ers, Cowboys, Eagles, Bills and Bengals. Despite the perceived first-ballot snub, Owens said he's now more than happy with the situation. 

"My family's happy, I'm happy. I'm not going to worry what anyone else says," Owens said. 

T.O. also added he's not worried about what outsiders think of his decision to skip the enshrinement ceremony and that he would add a few more details about his choice "at a later date."

"I'm not really worried about the criticism, everybody's entitled to their opinion," Owens said. "At a later date, I'm some things to clarify and validate why I'm doing what I'm doing. At the end of the day, people can speculate, I'm not going to let anyone's opinions about be deter me from what I'm doing."

Although there had been a report that the HOF was having some serious issues with Owens' decision to skip the events in Canton, Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker attempted to clear a few things up during a recent conversation with CBS Sports Radio's "Tiki and Tierney." 

"Clearly, what's happened is unprecedented. We've never anybody not come before, but I've had a couple good conversations with Terrell and basically, I told him that we're disappointed that he's not coming because we wanted to honor him," Baker said. "There's a whole city here that's looking to honor him. Having said that, he's got a mind of his own, he's a grown man and we need to respect his right to make that decision."

As for reports that the Hall won't be mentioning Owens' name, that's just not the case, according to Baker. 

"His face is on the front of the Hall of Fame," Baker said. "We have an exhibit on the new class where each of them have a locker and he's prominently in there. His picture is going to be prominently in Tom Benson Stadium. He's going to be in the opening video with all of the class members. On television, there's going to be videos related to him on both NFL Network and ESPN."

Baker also mentioned that the only reason the HOF is going to mail Owens his gold jacket is because, what else are they supposed to do? The HOF president noted that, since Owens won't be there in person, it would be impossible for him to give a speech, attend the annual parade or receive his gold jacket at the Hall of Fame dinner the night before the ceremony. 

"We are not in any way ignoring him," Baker said.

To prove his point, Baker said that the Hall of Fame has extended an invite to Owens to attend all events. 

"What I told him is that he's welcome up until the last moment to come to the enshrinement," Baker said. "If he doesn't come to the enshrinement, he's welcome here every day for the rest of his life. Our job is to honor the heroes of the game."

As things stand now, Owens is still planning to do his own thing. On the day of the enshrinement ceremony in Canton, the long-time NFL receiver will be holding his own event in Chattanooga, Tenn., that's set to kickoff at 3:17 p.m. ET.

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

Join our Free $1,000,000 Parlay Challenge

Our Latest Stories