Terrell Owens describes Hall of Fame election as 'bittersweet'

toap.jpg
AP

Terrell Owens describes Hall of Fame election as 'bittersweet'

Former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens said last week he will not be celebrating his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the other seven members of the Class of 2018 in Canton, Ohio.

Owens announced he made that decision following his visit to the Hall of Fame in March.

“After visiting Canton earlier this year, I came to the realization that I wish to celebrate what will be one of the most memorable days of my life, elsewhere,” Owens said in a statement.

Two weeks after visiting Canton, Owens took part in an interview that was released Tuesday for the 49ers Insider Podcast. Owens was asked then about what he expected from the enshrinement weekend after visiting Canton.

“I don’t know,” Owens said on April 13. “I think understanding, and me going through the orientation and understanding the values in which (Hall of Fame president) David Baker expressed to us in terms of what the Hall of Fame represents and embodies. I took it all into consideration. I took the trip.

“So, again, I don’t know. I’m getting the situation, my road to the Hall of Fame, documented. So at some point it will come out. But this is a special moment, not only for myself, but for my family and the people that really helped me get to the point – I can say it now – to be one of the greatest receivers to ever play the game.”

The 48-member selection committee is comprised of media members. The group includes two members of the Hall of Fame: Dan Fouts and James Lofton, both of whom work as commentators during NFL games for CBS Sports.

Owens received word on the eve of Super Bowl 52 that he was elected in his third year of eligibility. Owens, a five-time first-team All-Pro selection, was picked to six Pro Bowls. He ranks second all-time in receiving yards; third in receiving touchdowns (fifth in touchdowns of any kind); and eighth in receptions.

“Honestly, I wasn’t really overjoyed about it,” Owens said. “I mean, I’ve seen the emotions of some of the other guys that have gotten the news to be inducted, and probably had it happened a couple years ago, maybe I would’ve felt the same way.

“But understanding the process and how unfair it is, again, for me it was bittersweet. The part that I’m happy about is the people who love me and truly understand who I am as a person, they no longer have to answer the questions and all these things and be disappointed. Over the last two to three years, fans alike, as well as my family, immediate family and coaches, they know I probably should’ve been – not probably – I should’ve been a first ballot, based on statistically where I was and where I am, based on the criteria to get in, and based on the bylaws."

Some voters expressed publicly that they voted for other finalists due to Owens’ reputation as a teammate. He played for five teams in his 15-year career. Owens objects to any questions about his character.

“I’m always going to defend my character based on how I was raised and who raised me, and that was my grandmother," Owens said. "So I think she did an amazing job, as far as raising me to be the man that I am today. When you think about some of the issues and some of the things that are plaguing a lot of the athletes and some of these things they’re doing, from domestic violence, DUIs, the sexual allegations, all the criminal records, you won’t find me in that category. So that’s why I’ve been so vocal about defending my character.”

Terrell Owens selects former 49ers coach as his Hall of Fame presenter

owens-celebrates-ap.jpg
AP

Terrell Owens selects former 49ers coach as his Hall of Fame presenter

Terrell Owens has selected former 49ers special teams and wide receivers coach George Stewart as his presenter into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“He knew what to get out of me,” Owens told the Hall of Fame.

“He knows who I am. To know who Terrell Owens is, you have to spend some time with him. . . George Stewart became a father figure to me.”

Owens was elected into the Hall of Fame in February. He will enter the Hall of Fame in a class that also includes wide receiver Randy Moss, linebackers Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and Robert Brazile, safety Brian Dawkins, guard Jerry Kramer, and contributor Bobby Beathard.

Owens played special teams under Stewart’s direction as a rookie after coming to the 49ers in 1996.

From 2000 to ’02, Stewart worked as the 49ers’ wide receivers coach. Owens was selected to three consecutive All-Pro teams and Pro Bowls during that time. Owens ranks No. 2 all time behind Jerry Rice with 15,934 receiving yards. He is third all-time with 153 receiving touchdowns.

Stewart is set to enter his 30th NFL season as an assistant coach and his second as special-teams coordinator of the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Class of 2018 will be enshrined inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday, Aug. 4.

All sides of the T.O. to Hall of Fame discussion

to-ap.jpg
AP

All sides of the T.O. to Hall of Fame discussion

The Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee met for nearly eight hours in Bloomington, Minnesota, on Saturday to vote on the Class of 2018.

The last two players discussed took up the longest portion of the debate: Randy Moss (34 minutes, 45 seconds) and Terrell Owens (45:15).

In the end, Moss and Owens were elected, along with Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and Brian Dawkins, seniors nominees Robert Brazile and Jerry Kramer, and contributor Bobby Beathard.

The process, especially as it relates to Owens, is the subject of this week’s 49ers Insider Podcast.

“In my almost three decades of being in the room, this may have been the best meeting I sat through, and not just based upon the results of the vote,” said Joe Horrigan, the executive director of the Hall of Fame.

“The process by which this class was determined was, to me, the most level-headed, prepared group of men and women that came in with precise and accurate information.

“It was, ‘Here are the facts; let’s talk about them; let’s be civil; and let’s be correct, and let’s consider from beyond our own perspectives.’ This was something that was informative to me, where some perspectives from people of a younger age, in one instance, to people who’ve had similar life experiences so we can get a better insight into some of the issues that come up.”

Terez Paylor, 34, of the Kansas City Star is one voter who expressed a unique perspective on the podcast.

“For me, and for some of the other guys of my generation, no matter what you say about Terrell Owens and Randy Moss and what came with them off the field, as far as baggage, I can tell you for an entire generation, you can’t write the history of the game without those guys,” Paylor said. “Those guys were electric and they brought so many eyeballs to the sport. . . . They made football fans out of a lot of people, including me.

“What matters is that this is a performance league. And they were both great. They were great football players, and you can’t say they weren’t. By every measure, they were great professional football players.”

Clark Judge of the Talk of Fame Network expressed a different opinion of Owens. Judge covered the 49ers for the San Jose Mercury News at the beginning of Owens' career. He brought up the following criteria for selection from the Hall of Fame’s bylaws:

“The only criteria for election into the Hall of Fame are a nominee’s achievements and contributions (positive or negative) as a player, a coach or a contributor. . .

Judge acknowledged Owens’ productivity, but added, “There’s more to the story than that.”

Judge cited former NFL general managers Bill Polian and Ron Wolf, the first individuals to be selected to the Hall of Fame in the contributors category, as saying they did not believe Owens should be in the Hall of Fame because of his negative intangible impacts on the teams for which he played.

The 49ers traded Owens at the peak of his career; the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys released him in turbulent times. Owens concluded his NFL career with one-year stints in Buffalo and Cincinnati.

“If you got fired from five different positions at work, would we put you in the Hall of Fame?” Judge asked.