I think the Hall of Fames are for people who make their teams better, not who detract from them. ... What did Owens do that made his teams better? He put up a lot of numbers. Bill [Parcells] said that he was a disruptive force. Jerry [Jones], who's probably one of the most easy-going people when it comes to disruptive guys, got rid of him. I've gotten texts from people in Philadelphia responding to the [Hall of Fame] campaign saying, "This guy was a cancer and destroyed our football team." How does that square with the Hall of Fame?
Part of the motto of the Hall of Fame is [to] support the values of the game. How did he support the values of the game? It's a team game. It's not an individual game.
Owens' first year of Hall of Fame eligibility came in 2016. He was one of 15 "modern-era" finalists before being culled during the first round of voting. The same fate befell him again in 2017, which elicited a pair of tweets from Owens:
In August 2016, Bleacher Report's Mike Tanier provided an inside look at the deliberations in which Owens was a source of heated debate. The committee evaluated his candidacy for around 50 minutes—an unusually long time.
There's no question Owens' enormous ego does him few favors in terms of his Hall of Fame candidacy, and he hasn't been above criticizing prominent former teammates such as Jeff Garcia, Tony Romo and Donovan McNabb.
Still, it's a stretch to say Owens isn't a Hall of Fame-caliber receiver and didn't make his teams better.
The 43-year-old ranks eighth all-time in receptions (1,078), second in receiving yards (15,934) and third in receiving touchdowns (153). In terms of team success, Owens made eight trips to the playoffs in 15 seasons, including an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Off-field issues should be a consideration for any player's Hall of Fame resume, but Owens was one of the best wideouts of his generation. His on-field contributions far outweigh the headaches he caused and bridges he burned.