Terrell Owens

HOF voter James Lofton: Terrell Owens Hall-of-Fame worthy

HOF voter James Lofton: Terrell Owens Hall-of-Fame worthy

James Lofton is one of two members of the Pro Football Hall of Famers who had a Hall-of-Fame vote on Saturday in Houston.

Dan Fouts seemed to publicly express reservations this week about selecting wide receiver Terrell Owens. He said Owens received a "fair evaluation." But Lofton, a former wide receiver, stated exactly where he stands in the debate during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show.

“When Terrell Owens came up, his presenter came up,” said Lofton, referring to CSNBayArea’s Matt Maiocco, who made the opening statements in support of Owens for the Hall of Fame to the 48-member Board of Selectors.

“And I may have been the second person to chime in. I looked at what happened on that 100 by 53 1/3-yard field. And what I saw was pretty special. What I saw was Hall-of-Fame worthy.

“The thing I’m concerned about with Terrell Owens is that, is he being treated like these who used steroids in baseball. And I don’t think that should be the case at all.”

Owens, who ranked second in NFL history in receiving yards and third all-time in touchdown receptions, did not even make it past the initial round of voting on Saturday with the cut from 15 to 10 finalists. A maximum of five modern-era finalists can be selected every year.

“I had 75 touchdowns during the course of my career,” Lofton said. “The guy that we didn’t let in had 153. I can look at all of T.O.’s other numbers, but I had a hard time with that.

“Here’s a guy that I looked at, and what he did on the football field, I just thought was phenomenal. And from a person who did the same thing and really appreciates the position, I’m at a loss for words.”

One of the arguments against Owens is that he played for five different teams in his career.

“Jerry Rice was also on multiple teams,” Lofton said. “Other guys were on multiple teams. And if you’re cut or traded, it means the next person wants you.”

Rice played on three teams in the final five seasons of his career. Lofton played on five teams in his 16-year career.

Fouts: Owens received fair evaluation of his career with HOF voting

Fouts: Owens received fair evaluation of his career with HOF voting

Programming note: Watch the John Lynch-Kyle Shanahan introductory press conference on Thursday at 1pm on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts was a Hall of Fame voter for the first time on Saturday in Houston.

Fouts said on a radio interview on Nashville’s 104.5 The Zone that he presented the room with the results of a poll in which he sought input from Hall of Famers.

“The feedback I got was strong, it was passionate and it was interesting,” said Fouts, who now works in the media for CBS Sports.

Fouts was asked about the discussion of wide receiver Terrell Owens, who was a finalist in his second year of eligibility and was not elected into the Hall of Fame.

“I think he did receive a fair evaluation of his career, both pros and cons,” Fouts said. “But, obviously, ripping the Hall of Fame and the process, what good is that going to do? I just don’t understand that. But I didn’t understand a lot of things he did in his career.”

Shortly after he received word from a Hall of Fame representative that he did not receive the necessary votes to be part of the Class of 2017, Owens tweeted, “HOF is a total joke. Honestly, doesn’t mean anything to me to get in beyond this point.”

When asked what his stance was on Owens, Fouts spoke about the dilemma he faced as a voter.

“I think his numbers are very worthy,” Fouts answered. “But, again, on the other side of it, I think his actions on and off the field, on the sideline, in the locker room, and the fact that he played for so many teams. He was such a great player, the question always comes back to, if he was so great, why would those teams get rid of him? And I think we all know the answers.”

Fouts and Hall of Fame wide receiver James Lofton of Westwood One were added this season to the 48-member Board of Selectors.

One NFL peer's passionate plea: Put Terrell Owens in the Hall of Fame

One NFL peer's passionate plea: Put Terrell Owens in the Hall of Fame

Wide receiver Terrell Owens did not advance beyond his status as one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame during voting of the 48-member Board of Selectors on Saturday in Houston.

In the days since Owens was not selected in his second year of eligibility, there has been a lot of debate on the subject. Chidi Ahanotu played 12 seasons in the NFL, and he was a teammate of Owens for one year with the 49ers. It was 2003, and Owens was in his final, tumultuous season with the 49ers.

Ahanotu shared his thoughts on having Owens as a teammate in a letter he wrote to Matt Maiocco, who is a member of the selection committee and advocated for Owens’ election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This letter is being published with Ahanotu’s permission:

* * *

From: Chidi Ahanotu 
Date: Tue, Feb 7, 2017 at 10:14 AM
Subject: T.O. In the Hall
To: Matt Maiocco

First off, I, along with many of the Hall voters, did not "like" T.O. I did not appreciate his behavior off the field and in the locker room at times. But I got LOVE for T.O. as a teammate, as an opponent, and for what he represents for the game of football.

While I was his teammate for only one year during my 11th year in the NFL as a member of the 2003 San Francisco 49ers, I can attest to his worthiness probably as well as anyone else could. See, I have a few things in common with T.O. My aunt, Jean Cooper, taught T.O. in elementary school in Alabama. I spent most of my summers there in Alabama even though I grew up in Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay Area. I also played against T.O. for many years and had the opportunity to go to battle against him. And, lastly, the one year I was on the 49ers, I actually sat in the back of the travel bus with T.O. He always sat on bus No. 3 in the last seat on the bus and I always sat directly in front of him or to the side.

Sitting on the bus right next to T.O. was an experience I will cherish for my lifetime. The two of us did not speak. Outside of a head-nod greeting or a hand slap, the road trip to the airports and to the stadiums were filled with silence between us. I sat on that particular bus and in that particular seat for that exact reason, for silence. At 11 years in the league, I cherished that silence away from the seriousness of bus No. 1 that the head coach rode on, and away from the extracurricular activities of bus No. 2 that most of the "cool" players sat on. Nope. It was bus No. 3 that had the occasional family members or straggler, miscellaneous visitors or ball boy or member of the press. It was a rag-tag group to be sure. But it afforded guys like me and T.O. a much-desired peace, quiet and a sort of anonymity. Sitting there in the seat row next to T.O., I learned a lot about him in that year.

In the seat next to T.O., I overheard his conversations on his cell phone. Not because I was snooping or being nosey, but because T.O. would be candidly speaking and didn't care who heard him. Or maybe he just didn't care that I heard him because I had earned his trust -- I guess because I never spoke to him and let him have that peace and quiet that the very back seat in bus No. 3 afforded him. I can tell you these things that are true about T.O. that I learned hearing his personal phone calls:

  1. T.O. wanted to win passionately more than any player I've ever been around in my 12 years in the NFL.
  2. T.O. wanted to be a star and have the ball thrown to him over and over again in order to be legendary and to win.
  3. T.O. was as brash, emblematic, egotistical, appealing and appalling as he portrayed himself to be on the field and thru the media.
  4. T.O. was one of a kind. He was special . . . like Van Gogh, Mozart, Einstein or Darwin. A fire was lit in him that engulfed his entire soul aflame. The kind that will either drive you mad or drive you to greatness . . . or both. But it is this way with the special ones, the ones that are set apart from you and me and the human race. They are not human. They are something else. Barry Sanders was this way. Deion Sanders was this way. Muhammad Ali was this way. Warren Sapp was this way. Michael Irving was this way . . . T.O was this way.

I began this letter stating that I like many in the media did not "like" T.O. But as his NFL brother, I loved T.O. Because T.O. was the most powerful, graceful shooting comet across the football field I have ever witnessed. I hated playing against him but I loved what his play meant to the game of football. I loved playing with him and walking out to the battlefield with him because every Sunday you knew you had a loaded nuclear missile in your arsenal. None of the off-the-field personality mattered. The game of football is the only thing that mattered. What only mattered was being able to witness the coming of a special force of nature akin to standing on top of the crest of the Grand Canyon or the summit of Mount Everest or the front row at NASCAR.

T.O. was all of that and then some.

Ladies and Gentlemen, a force like that deserves to be in our Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Like the eruption of a volcano we may never see a happening like T.O. ever again.

--Chidi Ahanotu
Defensive end
University of California
Sixth round draft pick, 1993
Tampa Bay, 1993-2000
St. Louis, 2001
Buffalo, 2002
San Francisco, 2003
Miami, 2004
Tampa Bay, 2004

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