Tuesday afternoon, news broke that wide receiver Terrell Owens was cut by the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League. TO had a partial ownership stake that also was reportedly terminated. Owens is threatening to sue the Wranglers owners for breach of contract. All in all it's looking like a fairly depressing ending to what at one point was an amazing football career.
It is sometimes easy to forget just how dominant a receiver Terrell Owens was in his day. The late career issues with teams and the media have left a sour taste for many. Many 49ers fans are still indignant towards TO given how ugly his departure seemed back in 2004. Ray Ratto had an interesting piece on the very likely close of TO's career.
It is possible Owens latches on somewhere else, but let's operate under the assumption that he is finished in the NFL. If that is the case, I believe he will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. If his brief IFL stint impacts his eligibility, then he would become eligible in 2017.
Whatever the case, when he comes eligible, his statistical standing among the all-time greats will remain close to or at its current standing. Right now, Terrell Owens ranks sixth all-time in receptions (1,078), second all-time in receiving yards (15,934) and second all-time in receiving touchdowns (153). Randy Moss is tied with Moss in receiving touchdowns, so we're obviously hoping to see Moss pass him this year. Moss is also 1,076 yards back of TO. If Moss can get another couple years out of his career, it is possible he could pass TO in yards as well.
Tim Brown is a guy who compares statistically, but has not found himself in the Hall of Fame. While Brown was a great wide receiver, I would argue TO was considered a more dangerous threat at his peak. That's a very subjective analysis, but in considering HOF potential, I think that counts for something in the minds of some voters. At his peak, TO was an absolute bad-ass. He was a tough SOB both as a blocker and for overcoming physical issues, as we saw when he played on a bum leg in the Eagles-Patriots Super Bowl contest.
Of course, when talking about Terrell Owens, the off-the-field issues always come up. In my mind, plenty of his issues have been self-inflicted, but others are the result of being a guy many misunderstood. He is far from a great guy, but I don't think he was quite the monster people portrayed him as over the years. Much like anything else, it's never as black and white as people want it to be.
If this were 2016 and I had a Hall of Fame ballot in front of me right now, I would vote for Terrell Owens without hesitation. He's got the numbers and he had the stature in the league. I look at any Hall of Fame not as a referendum on whether someone was a good citizen. I can see why people might consider that, but personally, this is in recognition of the all-time greats in the game. TO deserves such recognition.
I know some will disagree, but I'd love to hear your reasons why. If part of your reason includes the off-field stuff, please go into a little more detail than "I hate the guy."