His public persona may be what he’s most remembered for, but former All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens is plenty deserving of an early Hall of Fame entrance for what he did between the hashes.
Owens, who starred for five NFL franchises over his 15-year pro career, is among the first-time nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2016, but could unfairly be kept out of the hall for a few years by voters skeptical of his character. While Owens may not be deserving of first-ballot entrance — an accolade only five total receivers have ever garnered — keeping a player of his stature out of the Hall of Fame for any longer would be unjust.
While you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t think T.O. wasn’t one of the best receivers of his era, those who are unsure of his place among the top pass-catchers in the league’s history should take a second look at the record books. Owens’ 15,934 receiving yards and 153 touchdown receptions rank second and third all-time — with only Jerry Rice (22,895) ahead of him in receiving yards and Rice (197) and Randy Moss (156) ahead of him in career receiving TDs. During an era in which receivers became a more integral part of teams’ offensive attacks, he lead the league three times in receiving touchdowns and once in average yards per game (103.6).
His touchdown celebrations were perfect for the age of social media and Youtube, but all these antics and the cockiness that came with them shouldn’t be used as reasons to punish Owens’ as he attempts to get in to the hall within his first few years of eligibility. The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s bylaws state that voters are only supposed to judge a player by his production on the field, but we all know how difficult it can be for some to do this — especially when thinking back on a character like Owens. With that said, was it really all that bad?
There have been countless star professional athletes who have done far worse things off the court or the field than Owens. Professional sports is a form of entertainment and Owens was as captivating as they come, both with the ball in his hands and dancing with it in the end zone.
Look, we all know he wasn’t the unselfish, humble leader some fans crave from their favorite sports stars, but it isn’t Owens’ personality that’s being considered for the Hall of Fame. So grab a bag of popcorn and vote “yes” for Owens, if only to see what he pulls out of his jacket’s sleeves for his induction speech.