Former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens sat down for an interview on Wednesday with Buffalo sports columnist Tim Graham to discuss his thoughts on the Hall of Fame voting process. He failed to gain entry for the second straight year, and did not even make the cutdown from 15 finalists to 10 finalists. The few people who have gone on record about voting against Owens have talked about his movement between teams and locker room issues.
TO told Graham he has lost respect for the Hall of Fame because of how they are treating stuff off the football field.
"Obviously, what I did [on the field], the Hall of Fame, that should validate it. But now it's something else. Now they're adding to the bylaws; they're adding extra things to the criteria to be inducted."
"For me, that's where I've lost all respect for it, in a sense."
The HOF is not adding bylaws in how they are assessing him. One of the problems is how they handle locker room stuff. Some voters choose not to consider it, instead focusing entirely on what he did on the football field. Others view the locker room as an extension of the field, and factor into their vote.
The bigger problem in some sense is the lack of transparency. Voters can talk about their own thoughts, and speak generally about what goes on in the room, but they cannot get into too many specifics about the other voters. TO pointed to it as a flawed process in part because of the lack of transparency.
"I'm not bitter in that regard, but when it comes to questioning my character and what I did in that locker room, the thing what a lot of people are missing is these coaches and these people are saying is I'm this type of person in the locker room. Well, who are those guys? Nobody's attached any names to anything. They're just saying, 'Well, this is what I heard.' "
The issue of anonymous character attacks are not new to the NFL. We see it every year during contract negotiations and pre-draft scouting reports. TO has certainly had some issues with teammates, but is it at such a level compared to other players, and compared to how great he was on the field? Does it overcome leading his team in receiving during the Super Bowl while playing on a fractured leg?
TO was not the fastest receiver in the NFL, but the combination of what speed he did have with his ridiculous physical presence created a matchup nightmare. I think Randy Moss was more of a physical “freak” than TO, but both were able to dominate defensive backs in a way we rarely see.
Given that TO did not make the cut from 15 to 10, it seems unlikely he will be getting into the Hall of Fame in the next year or two. And it could very well be longer. The 2018 Hall of Fame debate will be even more interesting with Randy Moss up for induction. I think he was the most freakish wide receiver to ever enter the NFL. He changed the way teams approached him, even leading to the Green Bay Packers drafting multiple cornerbacks after he thoroughly decimated them. But he had his issues with teams unloading him. Will teams treat Moss and TO the same way? And will we get the anonymous character attacks?