The Pro Football Hall of Fame will not be complete until Terrell Owens is inducted into its hallowed ranks.
Despite trailing only Jerry Rice in all-time receiving yardage, Hall of Fame voters bypassed the mercurial wide receiver for the second straight year.
After learning he didn't make it to Canton, Owens lashed out on Twitter:
Terrell Owens @terrellowens
When you align expectations with reality you will never be disappointed. To my family,fans & friends I'm a Hall Of Famer. #FlawedProcess2017-2-4 23:35:33
Terrell Owens @terrellowens
HOF is a total joke. Honestly, doesn't mean anything to me to get in beyond this point. https://t.co/wJJ8vVSp9d2017-2-5 00:12:31
Hall of Fame voting is a flawed process. Sportswriters with biases and subjective viewpoints are tasked with the fate of those who dominated on the gridiron.
A player's attitude and off-the-field issues aren't supposed to be part of the decision-making process. In Owens' case, there's no other reason for his bust not being included among the game's greats.
Instead, LaDainian Tomlinson, Terrell Davis, Jason Taylor, Kurt Warner and Morten Andersen made the final cut. Yes, Andersen—a kicker, albeit an exceptional one—heard his named called before one of the best receivers in NFL history.
The fact that voters decided to elect a specialist and two players who were fringe candidates in Davis and Warner due to their respective career paths is a joke.
Perception is often reality, though. This is where Owens failed despite his impeccable resume. There are a myriad of reasons why the dominant receiver has to wait another year before the selection committee has a chance to right this mistake.
First, the UT-Chattanooga product was never viewed as a good teammate. Despite this perception, Owens made all of his teams better. SB Nation's Bobby Belt provided a different take on the receiver's impact during his time with the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys:
Bobby Belt @BobbyBeltTX
As we prepare for a Hall of Fame vote, let's remember the real legacy of @TerrellOwens: a player that teams crumbled without. https://t.co/NdC0WJnOZM2017-2-4 02:40:32
When it mattered most, Owens delivered. In Super Bowl XXXIX, the wide receiver caught nine passes and 122 yards while playing through a fractured fibula.
If the lack of a Super Bowl ring defines, Owens then the voters should have excluded Taylor, Tomlinson and Andersen. None of those three lifted the Lombardi Trophy, either.
Another argument can be made that Owens didn't respect the game or his opponents. After all, he famously stood on the star in the middle of Dallas' field for all to see after scoring a touchdown. He was also fined $35,000 after he spit in cornerback DeAngelo Hall's face during a 2006 contest against the Atlanta Falcons.
Owens' celebrations and actions may have been over the top, but a couple of former players came to his defense on social media Saturday night:
Damien Woody @damienwoody
I can't believe I read some ppl on here say T.O. isn't a HOFer....I just can't take them seriously2017-2-5 00:27:09
shannon sharpe @ShannonSharpe
I'm saddened and disappointed that @terrellowens hasn't been given his ultimate validation with a selection into @ProFootballHOF. 😔😔2017-2-5 00:31:25
The Alabama native never catered to the media. Others had much worse off-the-field issues, though.
O.J. Simpson is still included among Hall of Fame inductees. Marvin Harrison was voted in last year despite being entangled in a possible gang shooting. Both can be pulled up on the Pro Football Hall of Fame's webpage by using its search engine, which includes the phrase "Find Your Hero."
These are just two examples. Jim Brown and Lawrence Taylor are considered among the greatest players of all time. They're acknowledged as such despite personal issues.
Why is it somehow different for Owens? He's never had a serious off-the-field problem other than trying to be the center of attention at all times. That's the hypocrisy of this decision.
Owens is one of the greatest to ever play the game, period. This simply can't be overlooked. While the Hall of Fame doesn't have any set standards, the wide receiver's dominance between 1998 and 2008 can't be dismissed.
At its core, the Hall of Fame is a museum. A museum is meant to preserve history. If the sport's story can't be told without a certain player, that individual cannot and should not be excluded from its ranks.
As Bleacher Report's Dan Worthington noted, the NFL's story can't be told without Owens' dominance as one of football's most physically imposing targets:
.@terrellowens 2nd in Receiving Yards 8th in Receptions 3rd in TD catches. And he didn't get elected to #NFLHallOfFame? WTF? 🤔 https://t.co/20kc4D5slk2017-2-4 23:57:41
Those are just his overall numbers. His other records include:
- 15 consecutive seasons with four or more receiving touchdowns
- Only player to score a touchdown against all 32 teams
- Oldest player with a 200-yard receiving game
Plus, Owens holds single-game or season receiving records with the 49ers, Eagles and Cowboys. Despite these accomplishments, Owens is being punished for being, to put it kindly, eccentric.
The voting process values the media's opinions too much. While everyone included assuredly understands the weight of their decisions, the committee is still composed of individuals who can be swayed by personal feelings instead of rational discourse and cold hard facts.
This was personal, and it's easy to see since Owens didn't even make the final 10, according to ESPN.com's Rich Cimini:
Rich Cimini @RichCimini
Players who made final 10 in the @ProFootballHOF selection process: Tony Boselli, Brian Dawkins, Ty Law, John Lynch and Kevin Mawae.2017-2-5 01:36:46
Changes need to be made to the selection process. The inclusion of former players should be at the forefront. Others with disparate viewpoints should be added to balance out those who hold their votes for as long as judges sit on the Supreme Court. A rotational basis may serve the committee well.
Too many voters can become set in their ways instead of allowing the conversation to start fresh every year.
Owens is many things. Anyone can argue he's an egotist, erratic and emotionally unstable. He's also one of the most talented and dominant athletes to ever walk the planet.
Being truly great at playing the game of football is all that should matter when it comes to his inclusion in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, that's not the case, and it's a damn shame voters can't look beyond their own self-righteousness to honor an individual who displayed greatness and had fun doing it at the same time.