Third time's the charm for T.O.'s HOF bid

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Third time's the charm for T.O.'s HOF bid

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The third time was a charm for T.O. 

In his third year of eligibility, former Eagles receiver Terrell Owens has been voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a part of the Class of 2018.

About time. 

Owens clearly had a Hall of Fame career, but his divisive nature kept him out of Canton for the first two years he was eligible, something that definitely seemed to bother him. He called the process flawed, and it's hard to argue against that. 

"Terrell Owens is one of the most talented and exciting wide receivers ever to play the game and he is very deserving of this honor," Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said in a statement released by the team. "We appreciate all his contributions to the league and to one of the finest seasons in the history of our franchise."

In his 15-year career with five teams he made it to six Pro Bowls and is second all-time in receiving yards with 15,934 and third in receiving touchdowns with 153. 

He's one of just two players in NFL history with at least 1,000 receptions, 15,000 receiving yards and 150 receiving touchdowns. The other is Jerry Rice. 

But the numbers didn't keep him out of Canton for this long. His personality did. Just look at his brief time in Philly. His beef with Donovan McNabb and his attempt to strong-arm the franchise into a new contract when he held that shirtless, sit-up press conference in New Jersey were eventually his downfall in Philadelphia. He played just 21 regular season games with the Eagles but was suspended in 2005 and then cut. 

Even McNabb thought Owens deserved the Hall of Fame nod. 

"The thing about Terrell is, on the field, outstanding talent," McNabb said to CBS in 2016. "Probably one of the best receivers that I played with in the pro ranks. He's one of the best to have ever done it, and will he be a Hall of Famer? Absolutely." 

When he was on the field in Philly, though, he was dynamic. In just 14 games in 2004, he caught 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns. A leg injury kept him out of the playoffs until Super Bowl XXXIX, when he returned to catch nine passes for 122 yards in the loss to the Patriots. He certainly showed up in that game. 

Owens averaged 93.5 yards per game during his time with the Eagles, the highest average in franchise history. 

Owens' career started as a third-round pick out of Tennessee-Chattanooga. In his rookie season, he had 35 catches for 520 yards, but by his third NFL season, he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career. He did it eight more times before his career came to a close in 2010. 

During his long career, Owens first played for the 49ers, where he spent seven seasons and grew into an All-Pro player. Then he headed to Philadelphia. After his eventful two years with the Eagles, Owens played for the Cowboys, Bills and Bengals. While he hinted at a comeback after that, it never happened. 

More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

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More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

The Eagles have given veteran defensive end Chris Long a raise, but according to one report, Long is concerned enough about his playing time with the Eagles that he's mulling his options regarding his future.

What is certain is that at some point before March 15, Long signed a new contract with the Eagles that increases his 2018 base salary from $1 million non-guaranteed to $2½ million fully guaranteed.

However, NFL Network's Michael Silver reported Monday that Long may decide he doesn't want to accept the new contract — which he already signed.

According to Silver, Long is concerned about how many snaps he would get as a third-down rusher following the addition of Pro Bowl pass rusher Michael Bennett.

The Eagles officially acquired Bennett on March 14, although the deal was reported a week earlier. Long's new contract was filed with the NFLPA on March 15, but there is a good chance he agreed to it and signed it before the Bennett acquisition.

Whether or not Long knew Bennett was coming to the Eagles when he signed the restructured deal is unknown. But at some point Long knew about their interest in Bennett and even gave Bennett a "glowing recommendation" when the Eagles asked, according to an interview Long gave to SBNation.  

Long wouldn't appear to have many options. He could retire, in which case he would have to return the $500,000 bonus he received from the Eagles last week.

He could request a trade, which would be bizarre for someone who signed a contract extension just a few days earlier.

Or he could simply play under the terms of the contract restructure and pay increase, which was first reported by Field Yates of ESPN and confirmed by NBC Sports Philadelphia with a source familiar with the renegotiation.

As for the contract itself, including that $500,000 roster bonus — which was also in the previous version of the contract — Long would receive $3 million guaranteed this year instead of $1.5 million non-guaranteed plus $750,000 in easily achieved roster bonuses.

Long had five sacks and forced four fumbles last year as a rotational defensive end. He wound up playing 496 snaps, 10th-most on the defense and only about 10 per game fewer than starter and Pro Bowler Brandon Graham and five per game fewer than starter Vinny Curry, who the Eagles released.

Long, who turns 33 next week, has 63½ career sacks. His 5.0 sacks last year were his most since 2013. He's won back-to-back Super Bowls the last two years with the Eagles and Patriots.

What happens next?

Long has demonstrated that the money is secondary to him. He donated his entire 2017 base salary to charity.

At some point very soon, the Eagles will need him to decide whether he's even going to have a 2018 base salary.

Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

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Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

A day after we found out that Brian Dawkins picked Troy Vincent to introduce him at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony this summer, Terrell Owens has picked his presenter. 

No surprise: It's not Donovan McNabb.

After alienating many people in the league throughout his tremendous career, Owens picked a name from his early days. Longtime NFL assistant coach George Stewart, who was Owens' receivers coach in San Francisco, will introduce T.O. at the 2018 induction. 

In a video released by the Hall of Fame, Owens said Stewart "knew what to get out of me."

Now special teams coordinator and assistant head coach for the Chargers, Stewart has been an NFL coach for three decades. He began his time in San Francisco in 1996 (Owens' rookie season) as a special teams coach but was their wide receivers coach from 2000-02.

"Things that George Stewart may say, it may be shocking to a lot of people, but not to him because he knows who I am," Owens said. "... To know who Terrell Owens is, you really have to spend some time with him. Fast forward, George Stewart became a father figure to me."

The first season Stewart became the 49ers' receivers coach, Owens went to his first of six Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro for the first of five times in his career. Owens was a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in all three of the seasons that Stewart held the position in San Francisco. 

Of course, Owens' growth under Stewart led to his becoming one of the biggest stars in the NFL.

Eventually, Owens forced his way out of San Francisco and got to Philadelphia. With the Eagles, Owens had a short and tumultuous two seasons, but was also dynamic on the field and nearly helped them pull off a Super Bowl win over the Patriots. 

Owens averaged 93.5 receiving yards per game during his time in Philadelphia, the highest average in franchise history. It wasn't his play that led to his downfall in Philly. It was his beef with McNabb, along with his attempt to strong-arm the Eagles into a new contract. 

Owens was a divisive personality for his entire career. It's likely the reason it took him three tries to make it into the Hall of Fame. Because his numbers don't lie: He's one of the best receivers of all time.